Saturday 13th July 2024,
Sandeep Mann
Spotlight

Fighting Spirit

Captain Richard Flaherty
Richard J. Flaherty due to complications at his birth only grew to 4-Foot-9-inches tall 97-Pounds.
Coming from a family of military heroes Richard also wanted to do his part and serve his country.
People laughed at the idea of a man his size in the military and all the branches turned him down. But that didn’t deter Richard, he spent the next 3 years writing letters until he finally received a medical waiver. With the waiver the Army allowed him to join… but no one ever believed he would make it through basic training.
His uniforms didn’t fit, the equipment was too big, and he was required to carry a back pack during long marches that was almost the same weight as he was. Because of his leg length marching in step with the rest of his company was incredibly difficult but Richard kept up. All the obstacle courses were built for average size men but Richard conquered them all. No rules were ever changed for Richard… Either he would sink or swim.
Richard didn’t just make it through basic training he volunteered and become an elite paratrooper, with the 101st Airborne. When he would jump out of planes the instructors would have to strap machine gun parts to his body to help his descent so he wouldn’t “float away.”
He graduated Officer Candidate School in 1968 as a 2nd Lieutenant and deployed to Vietnam. Within weeks he would lead his platoon in some of the bloodiest battles during the, “Tet Offensive.” In that week he was wounded twice by grenade fragmentation and a grazing bullet wound to the head but as soon as he was patched up he jumped right back into the battle.
After several months of fighting on the front lines many officers would accept assignments in the rear away from the action but not Richard. He would request to be transferred to Echo Company to lead a RECON unit which engaged in dangerous search and destroy missions deep into enemy territory. By the time his first tour in Vietnam was finished, Richard would receive the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars with Valor, & 2 Purple Hearts.
If you think that’s where Richard’s story ends think again. Richard would become an elite Green Beret with the 3rd Special Forces Group and be promoted to Captain. He served with the 46th Company based in Thailand where some of their clandestine missions sent them into Pink Zones “across the fence” fighting Malaysian and Burmese guerrillas.
As incredible as all his accomplishments seem that’s just the first half of his life story as his next chapters of undercover operations around the world seem closer to something out of a Tom Clancy book.
Richard had one last surprise when it came to his final wishes. Even though he knew he was qualified for the highest military burial in Arlington National Cemetery he instead chose to be buried in a small anonymous cemetery in W. Virginia so he could be next to the women he loved for eternity.
To learn more about the unbelievable life of America’s smallest war hero please check out, “The Giant Killer” Book, Audiobook and Documentary available worldwide.
Flaherty Military Bio:
Special Forces Capt. Richard J. Flaherty AKA The Giant Killer – In December of 1967, was sent to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He served as a Platoon Leader with companies B, C, and D and as a Recon Platoon Leader with Echo company.
In January of 1969, he returned to CONUS and attended the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg and was then assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group. Later that year he returned to South East Asia with the 46th Special Forces Company A-110 in Camp Pawai, Lopburi Thailand.
Captain Flaherty earned The Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts, the Air Medal, Gallantry Cross W/Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, 3 Overseas Bars, Sharpshooter Badge W/Rifle Bar, Air Medal, Parachutist Badge, Vietnam Service badge.

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