Selfies Gone Wrong: The Tariqka Sheffey Story

Let’s review the saga of Private First Class Tariqka Sheffey. I learned of her via the Army Times.

But, before we do, here’s a lesson on military customs and courtesy. On military installations, the US flag is raised every morning (usually at 6 or 7). This is called reveille, and it is usually accompanied by a specific bugle call and a shot from a cannon. It signifies the beginning of the day. At 5PM, the flag is lowered. This denotes the end of the day and is called retreat, and another distinct bugle call and cannon shot occurs.

At those times, members of the armed forces are supposed to stop and render a salute. If the individual is driving, they are supposed to safely stop their vehicle, exit it, and render appropriate courtesy. This applies even if the individual is in civilian clothes, though there is some debate as to whether a salute should be rendered in civilian clothes or a substituted hand over the heart. Most individuals I know render a salute regardless of attire. Most civilians also abide by this tradition, myself included. It can be inconvenient, but I do so out of respect for both tradition and those who have, at some point, served in uniform.

If you are inside a building, you are exempt from this pause to honor the start/end of the duty day. However, cars do not count as buildings.

These customs and courtesies are known to anyone who completes basic training.

I’ve seen plenty of soldiers duck inside of a building in order to avoid this requirement. It is an immature display that is generally dismissed as youthful idiocy and misplaced priorities that will soon be replaced by some form of learned maturity.  If caught, an on-the-spot correction is usually given in dramatic fashion by sergeants who catch such respect-dodging.

I’ve never seen someone brag about it, because to do so is in the poorest of taste. Even an 18 year old private knows that.

This brings us to PFC Tariqka Sheffey. Not only did she hide in her car to avoid retreat honors, but she posted a photo of her glorious act of civil disobedience on instagram. Given the attention she devotes to it, it must have been the hallmark of her day. Here it is.

Screenshot 2014-02-28 12.44.25

It is a bit unclear in this pic, but the caption says “This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 [5PM] flag, KEEP ALL YOUR “THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOW RUDE/ETC.” COMMENTS TO YOURSELF [hand symbol] cuz, right now, IDGAFFFFF.” On another note, 303 likes ain’t shabby.

Most acts like this (those that do not utilize social media) result in some sort of instant, non-enduring punishment given by a noncommissioned officer. It is usually in the form of pushups or an uncomfortable verbal admonishment. A correction in behavior is made, and the situation is then left and forgotten.

For PFC Sheffey, the effects look to last a bit longer than normal. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This is likely a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If anything, it can fit under Article 134 which criminalizes anything that either is prejudicial to good order and discipline or brings discredit upon the armed forces. Could her conduct be stretched into other violations? Sure. In particular, Fort Carson may have a policy letter ordering customs and courtesy at retreat, which would make her guilty of willfully failing to follow a lawful order. However, absent that, anything else would be an unnecessary stretch.
  • I think most would agree that her conduct is prejudicial to good order and discipline.
  • Was her conduct service discrediting? Just google “Tariqka Sheffey,” and the answer will become very, very clear.
  • Could she go to jail? Yes, but that’s not realistic. Don’t be fooled by media outlets that like to scare you with maximum punishment rhetoric. At worst, I see this being a case that is settled with nonjudicial punishment, which could result in a loss of rank, loss of pay, extra duty, and restriction. I’d be surprised if this goes as far as confinement.
  • Then again, since SDGAFFFFF, perhaps she will tempt fate by declining nonjudicial punishment and demanding a court-martial (as is her right). In that case, I suspect the command in Colorado will be happy to oblige.
  • Her use of IDGAFFFFF is not helpful to her case. Not at all. In fact, it may be the most damaging piece of evidence.
  • Because SDGAFFFFF, her command may decide that they don’t want soldiers who DGAFFFFF. In that case, they could process her for administrative separation. Though, I think this largely depends on whether she has a history of marginal or poor behavior and the quality of her work to this point.

Note: Does anyone know what IDGAFFFFF means? I know what IDGAFF means, but anything more than 2 F’s throws me for a loop.

Finally, this is yet another cautionary tale about the perils of social media. It seems there may be third-order effects not anticipated by PFC Sheffey. Via the Army Times:

Less than 24 hours after the story posted, new Instagram accounts were created bearing Sheffey’s image. These posts included even more controversial photos — one of a burning flag. The flag burning was posted on an Instagram account “teriqkasheffey,” which misspells the soldier’s first name. Another account used her photo, but misspelled her name differently: “teriqasheffy.” That post included a number of expletives including “f— the flag” and “f— the army.”

Many people assumed these were more posts from the PFC. But a Fort Carson official said it is likely these are posers who are looking to incite more outrage online.

It is “strongly believed that there are copycats posing as her, using some of her info to post more nonsense,” the official said.

One thing is absolutely sure. She now knows of the tangled and messy web that can be woven on the interwebz.


8 thoughts on “Selfies Gone Wrong: The Tariqka Sheffey Story

  1. Do confessions not have to be corroborated in the military? All I see is a picture and a stupid comment that may or may not be true. Even if it’s true, it seems to me that it would be nearly impossible to prove.

    • Akin to federal courts, yes, confessions must be corroborated. However, the evidence to corroborate need only be slight. That evidence would likely be her picture, used to corroborate her statement (the caption).

  2. She was given on Friday a reduction of rank to E-1 and forfeiture of half pay for a couple of months. I was in the room observing this Article 15. She gets to stay in the Army.

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