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Gaston veteran buried at Arlington

Gaston Gazette - 1/29/2019

Jan. 29--A Gaston County native and veteran has been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

On Wednesday morning, Lt. Col. Michael Boyce Redding, 54, was interred with full military honors in the cemetery's hallowed ground.

Redding's family members, comrades -- including about 50 to 60 airmen -- and other friends attended the service.

A horse-drawn caisson carried Redding's casket through the cemetery as family and friends followed behind. At the burial site, seven service members delivered a three-shot volley. A bugler played taps and the U.S. Air Force band also performed.

Boyce Redding, Michael's father, called the ceremony "a service fit for a king."

"It was very precise and very well-deserved for somebody that spent 30 years in the military or working with the military after he got out of the military," said Redding. "And it really meant a lot to us because he had said, 'When anything happens to me, if it does, I want to be buried at Arlington.' And we were able to carry out his wishes yesterday, and it was very meaningful."

More than 400,000 service members, veterans and their family members are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It's unclear how many are natives of Gaston County.

Michael Redding graduated from Ashbrook High School in 1982. He joined the U.S. Air Force and later earned his degree as an electrical engineering technologist from UNC Charlotte.

During his military career, he served more than a dozen tours in the Middle East and in other domestic and international locations. He worked on NASA's Discovery and Challenger missions as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist with a focus in the engineering, development and research of explosive devices. He was on site during the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986.

He would go on to work with many other high-profile missile defense systems pivotal to the defense of the country, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force in 2008.

After his retirement from the military, he and his family relocated to Madison, Alabama, where he gained employment as a civilian working with contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense and later with the Redstone Arsenal military base in Alabama.

Redding was killed on his 54th birthday on Aug. 24 in Huntsville, Alabama. The husband and father of three was out riding his motorcycle for the first time in several months, when a man fleeing from police hit Redding with his car. Redding was pronounced deceased at the hospital a short time later.

In October, family and friends held a memorial service for Redding at Venture Church in Dallas.

The Missile Defense Agency has established an annual leadership award in Redding's honor. The award will go to an individual who demonstrates Redding's traits: enthusiasm, tenacity, conscientiousness, dedication, integrity, selflessness, caring and excellence in everything they do.

Redding is among the first veterans buried in a new section of Arlington National Cemetery. A U.S. flag was folded and given to Michael Redding's wife, Elizabeth Redding, during the service on Wednesday.

"When they were folding the flag, there was a bunch of Canadian geese. And a whole flock of about 40 geese flew over the grave site," said Redding. "And then right behind it a Marine helicopter came across. And the chaplain said, 'Well, Michael got his flyover today from the Canadian geese and from the military helicopter.' So it was very nice."

You can reach Eric Wildstein at 704-869-1828 or Twitter.com/TheGazetteEric.

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(c)2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

Visit Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. at www.gastongazette.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
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