What do Vietnam Veterans think about the desecration of the Australian Army uniform at the Gay Mardi Gras?

The Australian Army Training Team – Vietnam was the most highly decorated Australian unit in that war. It fought some hard battles and was filled with hard men.

One of them was Ian Felton. He served 20 years as a soldier in the Australian Army, rising through the ranks to become one of its senior soldiers – a Warrant Officer Class 2. Ian has recently written to the Chief of the Australian Defence Force to express his disgust at military involvement in the Mardi Gras. It is a very strong letter, and is republished with slight edits below.


Dear General Hurley,

My name is Ian Felton.

I am an ex-serviceman, having served 20 years and 17 days in the Australian Army from 1968 to 1988. I served in many capacities and was proud of the uniform I wore.

I am ashamed and disgusted with the overall administration of the Defence Department since my retirement; ashamed and disgusted with the decisions and policies of the hierarchy who hold the complete security of Australia in their jurisdiction and portfolios.

I have never seen a more blatant abuse of the Defence Force, than finding that our head of the Australian Defence Force, in conjunction with the politicians, has committed the ultimate crime and insult to those who wear the ADF uniform.

General David Hurley you have bought shame on the Australian Defence Force.

You have now permitted ADF members to wear uniform and participate in the Sydney Mardi Gras, and this has been permitted for two years now.

This is not one member of the ADF we are talking about parading now, but platoons of service men and women.

General Hurley, by your prolonged support of service men and women wearing uniform and participating in the Sydney Mardi Gras, you have paid the ultimate insult to all service men and women who have donned the Australian uniform, from the days of the Boer War to the First and Second World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, and all conflicts since.

When one enlists into the Defence Force, they are obliged to swear allegiance to the Queen, and the Commonwealth. By that allegiance they swear also to uphold the respect of the Australian Army uniform, and what it stands for and represents.

You, General Hurley, have allowed homosexuality in the Defence Force to be openly paraded for the public to see by condoning participation in the Sydney Mardi Gras.

By condoning their participation whilst wearing the sacred uniform of the Australian Defence Force, you have not only insulted all ex-servicemen and woman, but exposed the vulnerability and mindset of those who have the security of our country in their hands.

The service personnel marching have one thought in mind: that is recognition of their sexuality. You have allowed the use of the uniform on an unauthorised parade.

The uniform is only to be worn on military parades, commemoration parades and other parades that are in accordance with military protocol, and that uphold the good order of military discipline and procedure.

These questions need to be addressed. By allowing military personnel to attend the Mardi Gras in uniform, are they deigned to be on official duty? Are they covered by compensation, both going to and from the parade? Are they covered under military or civilian law for any injuries suffered by attending the parade, ie riots, civil disturbance etc? How much compensation will the Australian taxpayer be held for in case of personal injury and subsequent medical requirements?

General Hurley, you have broken all protocol of military impartiality.

By allowing the use of the military uniform on a parade such as the Mardi Gras, you have turned my uniform, and every other proud soldier’s uniform, into a clown’s costume. Not only that, but by allowing the uniform to be worn in a Mardi Gras, you have introduced the military into a three ring circus.

Vietnam Mardi Gras 2

There is homosexuality in the Army, Navy and Air Force. There is homosexuality in all walks of life, be it the church, the police, school teachers and every trade or profession.

Homosexuality is a very personal matter; one between the person and God. Allowing service people to flaunt their sexuality in uniform is demonstrating their allegiance to their sexuality and persona, as opposed to the real purpose of being a member of the Australian Defence Force.

If you have any credibility, General Hurley, you and your staff might advise the Minister for Defence to cease forthwith with this blatant support of service people in uniform marching in any parade that is unmilitary, let alone a ridiculous pantomime/circus called a Mardi Gras.

I came up through the ranks in my twenty years service. I learnt through experience and, hence, wisdom. I was not streamlined through Officer Cadet School. As a member of AATTV, the most highly decorated unit to come out of Vietnam, I was taught two things.

One was to keep your head down; the second was to watch your mate’s back.

I have checked my military records and find I did serve under a Major General Michael Jeffery who, as you are no doubt aware, became our Governor General. He is a great military man.

Thankfully, I find I did not serve under you.

I always kept my head down and watched my mate’s back. In your Army, I would be wary of who was not watching my back, but my arse.

Your preoccupation with supporting the gay military members in their Mardi Gras parade, makes one wonder, if certain members of the military hierarchy are, not in actual fact, covering their arse.

Ian Felton

Ex Wo2, twenty years service


Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. I won’t be as kind as Ian Felton when I address you General, there will certainly be no Dear General Hurley.
    Your contempt for our uniform has destroyed for many of us the pride we had when we once wore it.
    Was it not a simple matter General, to just follow Standing Orders that clearly states that the uniform is not to be used for private or political purposes?
    No! General, you took the hard way not the easy way and if this is not obvious to most it is to me and I can only derive from this that you yourself would like to march in the Sydney Mardi Gras wearing OUR uniform.
    It is not Major Gaynor, who should be stripped of his commission but YOU General Hurley, for your blatant disregard for OUR uniform and STANDING ORDERS.
    Never again general, will I (as I have done many times in the past) encourage some young fella to join the Army.
    Angus MacKay. Vietnam Vet.

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  2. Neil,
    I can see your point but wouldn’t encouraging gay activities inside the forces merely lead to further confusion and the potential for law cases and the like. I cant see myself why such a tiny minority of people, albeit over-represented in the defense forces, should get their own “weekend of debaucherY when the rest of us poor mugs have to do the work and man the barricades as it were on a nightly basis! Sure, if a few of them want to take leave and don their uniforms in the Mardi Gras I’d say good luck to them, the more the merrier, but inside the wire its a different proposition! Its a morale “killer” if anything – and yet another step along the slippery slope of liberalising every institution in the country!

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  3. Well, speaking as a veteran myself, Im not bothered what they do with the uniform, the flag or the regimental mascots. We all know the armed forces are full of gay folk, as Bernard says above in his excellent article. I suppose the question is whether the Armed Forces should have their own gay mardi Gras – like at a major base, and ship in all the troops who want to participate – maybe make it a week off so they can all have a relaxing break in each other’s company, socialise and get up to whatever it is they want to. Would be good for morale Im sure – I think we had something similar in Vietnam one weekend if Im not mistaken. Anyway, thanks Bernard for your support of our troops, and their rights – gay and not gay, or even bi.

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  4. I served in Australian Army Signals, attached to 3 RAR circa 1960. I endorse many of the comments being made re the Mardi Gras.
    I am a third generation military man. My Dad fought in the trenches in France in WW1, my uncle was killed there and my Grandad served in Palestine and Egypt with the Redcaps. Another uncle was destroyed by landmines in WW2 while clearing beaches..
    I wonder today how they would feel about defending our present way of life as discussed in Ian Felton’s letter?
    I am not sure I would want to wear the uniform today

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  5. This garbage was introduced on us by the good old socialists,the Labor Party.
    If the Generals at the top had any balls they would have stopped it….but they wanted to play favourites with the RED LEFT, SO HERE WE ARE TODAY.
    I remember the time in Malaysia in 1964 ,the NZ Army had two gays get there,It was the laugh of the Garrison,these gays disappeared in a few months.
    Permission to let the uniform be worn in the Mardi Gras……..sickly and disgusting.
    Iam very sick of GAYS now throwing all this in our face……and we cant say anything…..!!!!!
    No wonder the Military is losing its good men…….LET THE TOP SHELF GO and bring in Leaders who are not woried about their careers……..and keep the good men…WO PARRY RAINF EX WO2

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  6. I am a serviceman who has served for nearly 30 years. I remember the discussions about how wrong it was for women to be allowed into Field Force units. The theory was that all they would do was want to have sex with the men and that the men would be too distracted by the women to do their jobs. That may have happened to a much lesser extent but generally, we accepted it and moved on.

    As a Christian, I don’t agree with homosexuality as a way of life but I accept that it happens. I even accept that there are gays in the ADF, some of whom I am friends with. What I don’t accept is that we need to openly show support for them. I agree that we shouldn’t shun them because they have made a life choice that they made but we disagree with, but I most definitely don’t agree with the fact that we need to openly show our support for them.

    Why is it ‘the right thing to do’ that I need to ‘hide’ my opinion? Would the CDF support me if I tried to organise a ‘Straight Pride March’? Should I be allowed to publicly demonstrate my pride in liking to have sex with the opposing sex? I would no doubt be charged for lewd behaviour. Why must we bend over backwards to show we support someone’s life decision?

    I have a friend (an ex soldier) who spent several years in jail for serious crimes. He is still my friend but I won’t ever direct someone to march with former criminals as they try to blend into society. Why should I? Putting aside whether it is right or wrong from a Christian, societal or military perspective to ‘approve’ of gays, we have to accept they exist. We don’t however need to treat them in any manner different to anyone else.

    It is wrong for Defence to show such support, just as it is wrong for Defence to support any group, cause, or lifestyle that has no direct relationship with Defence.

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  7. Some weeks ago I wrote to the PM regarding the so called “Army Pride” lapel pin and cufflinks. The reply from Brigadier C.A. Pearce A/.M. , Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters reads in part:
    “The lapel pins and cufflinks were developed as a symbol of the Army’s commitment to supporting and acknowledging our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) soldiers and officers. Previously Army issued a similar type of pin in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island members.”

    I come from a long line of men and women who have faithfully served their country in times of war and of peace. Some gave their lives in the service, some were taken as POW’s, some simply returned home safely and continued to serve. I know that each one would feel as I do – ‘Why in the name of all that is sacred, is the Army supporting such a dangerous and deviant lifestyle”?

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  8. The mardi gras is a truly revolting spectacle and to allow (even encourage) serving members of the ADF to participate IN UNIFORM is defintely a derelection of duty, Gen Hurley! Wake up to yourself! Withdraw this abomination immediately!

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  9. Shouldn’t the officers who allowed this to happen be disciplined for allowing this breach of military protocol?

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  10. What an insult to our noble and courageous forces! Homosexuality is not a desired outcome for anyone yet by this show of support in the so called mardi grass it is assumed it is the preferred outcome and many young lives could be sacrificed to it. Further, given the dangerous and insanitary conduct of homosexuality, it may well be that, in the end, we may all have to pay homage to it especially if plagues break out as did in the past. And how about impressionable people who are gullible enough to believe that if the army endorses it then it must be safe? The question begs – does the army endorse homosexuality? Can the army endorse homosexuality? Is the army competent to endorse homosexuality? How will the army protect us if HIV/AIDS breaks out and many who become affected by these “gay health crisis” illness then take legal action against our armed forces – who will pay the medical and legal bills? I feel sad for our men and women who have worn the uniform with pride to now have to succumb to their uniform being used for these illicit purposes. After all, where is the fundamental rule that the uniform can only be worn by solders and only at official Military Parades? More and more I am being convinced that the homosexual question is the real culprit in our woes and disgust. I assume that sooner or later there will have to be an awakening.

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  11. Bloody well said digger, get all former veterans and decent men and women of the armed forces to have general Hurley given the flick… He and his ilks are a disgrace to the armed forces of Australia.

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