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Soldier flagrantly avoids flag salute, sets off online outrage

Feb. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey is facing criticism online for this selfie, which shows her flagrantly avoiding issuing a salute to the American flag.
Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey is facing criticism online for this selfie, which shows her flagrantly avoiding issuing a salute to the American flag. (Instagram photo)
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Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey posted a video on Tuesday expressing some regret over the controversy her selfie has caused. (Instagram photo)

A soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag — and then flaunted it on Instagram — is the latest service member to come under attack via social media and be accused of dishonoring her service.

Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, whose Instagram handle is “sheffeynation,” posted a selfie with a caption that reads:

“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”

The image was distributed via Facebook and also sent to Army Times. Angry service members, Gold Star mothers and spouses have called for the soldier’s removal from service.

“Any soldier who refuses to salute the flag is in the military for the wrong reason, and should be removed by dishonorable discharge with loss of all benefits,” one Facebook commenter said. “If they won’t salute it, they damn sure won’t fight for it.”

Sheffey is a member of the 59th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, at Fort Carson, Colo., post spokesman Dee McNutt confirmed Tuesday.

When asked if an investigation was underway, McNutt said, “The chain of command is aware and looking into the situation. That’s really all I can say at this point.”

McNutt said Fort Carson learned of the photo after receiving a number of complaints.

The online outrage has quickly turned to hate, with a torrent of abusive comments, racial slurs and threats being made against the young soldier.

Sheffey responded with a video on Instagram on Tuesday and expressed regret. But she stopped short of apologizing for her actions:

“I seriously just want to say thank you to everybody who stood up to me today, like seriously. That s--- to me was not that serious. I am not a disrespectful soldier and I really appreciate you all.”

Attempts to reach Sheffey for comment via email were not immediately successful.

This marks the third time in less than two weeks in which a photo of service members has sparked controversy on social media. Several National Guard members have been suspended from funeral honors detail in light of a photo showing them comically posing around a flag-draped casket during training. An investigation is ongoing.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers is also the subject of an investigation, after a three-year-old photo of her tongue-kissing a Prisoner of War-Missing in Action symbol went viral.

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