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War vet ordered to lose vest at airport

November 8, 2009

War vet ordered to lose vest at airport

A WAR veteran says he was ordered to remove his leather vest that bears his service medals when going to farewell a friend at Darwin International Airport.

NOT HAPPY: Vietnam War veteran John Scully says he was forced to take his vest off at Darwin Airport. Picture: JUSTIN SANSON

NOT HAPPY: Vietnam War veteran John Scully says he was forced to take his vest off at Darwin Airport. Picture: JUSTIN SANSON

John “Skully” Scally was outraged and offended when told by officers it was for “security reasons”.

But Mr Scally, 62, who served in Vietnam with the Army, is a member of the friendly NT Chapter Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club and also has a club patch on his vest, and believes he was targeted because of all the recent “hysteria” about bikie gangs across the nation.

“I am a Digger – I’m a grunt,” he said. “I’m not an outlaw. I’m not a bloody crook.

“I was harassed and humiliated all for no reason – it is a disgrace.”

Mr Scally, from Wanguri, in Darwin’s northern suburbs, said he refused to take his vest off at the airport.

He said he was held by security, who used “standover tactics”, for 25 minutes in full view of the public.

“I wear this for the 60,000 servicemen and their families who have done it tough over the years,” he said. “It’s like your wedding ring. When you put it on you are making a commitment.

“We done our time and we earned our stripes. I don’t deserve this.”

Airport chief executive Ian Kew said it was not the vest that security had a problem with.

He said there were “prohibited items” attached to the vest and that once Mr Scally removed them he was allowed to move around the airport.

The prohibited items were some old, inert bullets that had been made into decorative keyrings and were hanging from the side of the jacket.

“There were other things on the vest that were ignored that would be more of a weapon than they were,” Mr Scally said.

Mr Scally said it is not the first time he has been refused entry to a place because of the stereotype that comes with his vest.

He said he has been kicked out of pubs and clubs in Darwin and interstate.

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