Celebrating 100 years: Ian's story

To showcase 100 years of serving those who serve Australia, we are talking direct to CSC customers to hear their special stories. Today meet Ian—read how no matter where in the world life took him post the ADF, CSC was also along for his journey.

23 Jun 2022

Ian Felton, an Army veteran of 20 years, has travelled far and wide—and has the stories to prove it. Life has taken him to all corners of the globe, spanning loves and losses, well beyond his time served in the ADF.

“I worked in Papua New Guinea in a medical humanitarian capacity. The government gave me a medal for that work; it was a lot of walking the mountains and villages. Then in 1970, I was sent to Vietnam for ten months as a medical advisor with a special unit called the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. I was working with just five others.”

When posted to the School of Army Health as a Medical Instructor, Ian married an Army nurse and the couple welcomed three children—two sons and a daughter.

But the marriage ended, and a few years later, Ian married again.

“She was the daughter of a Stolen Generation mother. But she was adopted. It was while she was checking her background that she found out that she was part Aboriginal—of the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people. At this time, we were living in Queensland. We were at an Aboriginal graveside reunion for her mother who had passed away four years earlier. And it was during the graveside reunion that she discovered she had many relatives. Ten years later, we separated and I moved back to Mildura.”

After moving back to Mildura alone, Ian took up writing, joined a writers group and posted his stories online. It was through this group that he met his future wife, a Chilean woman, Ana Cristina Sierra Corvalan-Lyng.

Ian moved to Chile and the couple married in the northern city of Valparaiso. Excited to commence their new life in Australia, it was while Ana was waiting for her medical clearance for entry to Australia when the 2010 earthquake struck Santiago. With no telecommunications, it was a time fraught with worry, but Ana finally arrived in Australia.

“We had a beautiful marriage. We travelled back to Chile each year to live there for a few months. We trekked the Atacama Desert from the north, down the Andes, and in the south we climbed glaciers. We were planning our next trip when COVID began.”

In late 2020 Ana was diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer.

“Four weeks after her diagnosis on 11 November 2020, she grew her wings and went away.”

Ian has Chilean family in Sydney and Chile, but he’s reluctant to travel to Chile again without his beautiful Ana by his side.

“Ana has one son, George. He married a Chilean Mapuche woman; we went to their wedding. George has two children, a son called Renato and daughter called Rayén, and I speak to them each week on Skype. In all, I have seven grandchildren here and a stepson and two grandchildren in Chile.”

It’s been many years since he received treatment for PTSD at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, but Ian has continued to write about his life as a form of healing. He says he now has enough material for at least five books!

“I chose most of my writings based on my heart; they’re stories of love and romance. I’ve also written stories about my adventures in Chile, South America. It’s ironic that the same people who advised me to write, didn’t realise that my style of writing is a form of dealing with PTSD.” 
Ian Felton

“My life has had many twists and turns; it’s like I’ve lived four lives in one.”

Ian Felton, CSC customer since 1969

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