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Flag flies upside down again at retired Fort Drum soldier’s home

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COPENHAGEN — An American flag is flying upside down again at the Main Street home of a former Fort Drum soldier.

Melissa L. Coss, who had been a sergeant first class, was spoken to by her chain of command in December after she flew a flag upside down. At the time, a neighbor, John H. Drewes, told the Times she said she had flown the flag that way to protest President Barack Obama’s re-election.

On Monday, the American flag could be seen upside down, between a properly displayed American flag and one for the state of Ohio, her home state. The post’s public affairs office wrote in an email message Tuesday that Ms. Coss has retired and is no longer attached to the 10th Mountain Division.

An attempt to reach Ms. Coss at a phone number listed in her name was unsuccessful.

Though the flag display could have been considered a violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which punishes speech and conduct that would affect good order and discipline or bring discredit upon the armed forces, the post did not enforce any punishment after the flags were taken down in December.

The code’s Article 88, which punishes officers who use contemptuous words against prominent federal and state officials such as the president, would not apply to her as an enlisted soldier.

Flying a flag upside down is considered a sign of distress, and Section 176 of Chapter 10, Title 36 in the U.S. Code of Laws, referred to as the U.S. Flag Code, specifies the flag should be flown upside down only in “instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Violating the flag code guidelines is not a federal or state offense, however.

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