The Smallest Special Operator In US Military History, The “Giant Killer”

Green Beret Captain Vietnam vet Richard Flaherty

On November 29, 1945, Richard James Flaherty was born. It turns out that Richard and his mother had two different RH factors. Richard was Rh-positive, and his mother, Beatrice, was Rh-negative.

While the condition could have killed him, Flaherty was instead born with hormonal imbalances that ended up stunting his growth. Even as an adolescent, he was short coming in at less than 4′ 10″.

Joining The Army

Flaherty did not let his size stop him from fighting in Vietnam. He volunteered to join the Army and was turned down. But, his Congressman stepped in, and Flaherty was given a waiver.

He went to Army Officer Candidate School in 1967 and became a Second Lieutenant assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Flaherty deployed with the Screaming Eagles and was a platoon and recon platoon leader.

Flaherty served a 13-month tour in Vietnam. He was given the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars during his time there, and he was wounded three times.

Silver Star

Flaherty served a 13-month tour in Vietnam. He was given the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars during his time there, and he was wounded three times.

His Silver Star was awarded for an incident on April 20, 1968. Flaherty’s platoon was ambushed and hit with heavy enemy fire. According to his citation, Flaherty risked getting hit with enemy fire to direct his squads properly.

He called for a 90 Millimeter recoilless rifle team to their position and then helped them attack the enemy bunker. Due to his leadership and quick thinking, the enemy bunker was destroyed.

Special Forces

After his time in Vietnam was over, Flaherty applied to Special Forces training. However, he needed six more pounds on him and a height waiver to qualify. But, of course, he did it and graduated from the Special Qualification Course.

He was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in Southeast Asia. His unit’s job was to train the Royal Thai Army to go to Vietnam. They also taught them counterinsurgency operations.

Flaherty moved to the 10th Special Forces Group in 1970. He led an ODA and an Operational Detachment Bravo. In 1971, he transferred to the Army Reserves.

He served until 1983. Unfortunately, Flaherty’s final years were spent homeless. He was killed in a hit and run incident in Miami on May 9, 2015.

Sources: 1, 2

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