Green Beret CPT Richard Flaherty overcame many obstacles in his life but none bigger than fighting in the Vietnam War at his tiny stature. Measuring in at just 4’9″ and 97 pounds CPT Richard Flaherty was the smallest service member to ever serve in the US Army. After fighting with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam CPT Flaherty lead Green Berets deployed in Thailand.
David Yuzuk has recently produced the Documentary and biography titles The Giant Killer. This is the story of Richard Flaherty’s life, his time in the military and his untimely death at the hands of a drunk driver in a hit and run accident.

TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

david welcome it’s it’s a real privilege
thank you so much for
you that you watching uh captain captain
richard flaherty it’s really great how’s
things out of florida
beautiful nice uh 70 degrees i hear you
brother okay
it’s getting up here it’s getting here
okay
well so what do you got to tell us a
little bit about uh
richard first congratulations on your
book and documentary
and uh how about we start with a brief
history of richard’s military career as
well as
the obstacles he had to overcome due to
his four foot nine inch frame
well the uh military height and size
requirements
uh are five feet tall and 100 pounds and
richard at four foot nine
and 97 pounds didn’t qualify so it took
him actually three years of letter
writing to get a
congressional waiver to allow him to
join the army
uh once he was in the army he served
with the 101st
airborne when he got back to the states
after his first tour
he uh went to special forces school and
then
was um sent to thailand with the 46
special forces group i’m sorry the third
the third special forces group 46
company
in thailand wow that’s amazing
a lot of dedication that young man is
heart and mind at that time
yeah absolutely um first uh you know the
101st
is really special because as i was
working on this project and we can get
into the nuts and bolts of it
man i had so much assistance from from
the men of the 101st and
i’m a stranger in that world i never
served in the military i was police
officer for 20 years
but they really uh helped me out and
embraced me and and
helped me uh learn a lot more about my
friend and what they went through in
vietnam
that’s yeah yeah man see my hat yeah
there you go brother thank you very much
for the compliments but yeah
they in there out in the service out of
their service
good good great bunch of guys who do
want one-on-one
okay so tell us what made you write the
book
so uh we’re gonna have to go back uh
1999 i transferred from another police
department to
uh the city of aventura which is in
north miami beach florida
and that’s where i saw um first saw
richard flaherty
i used to see him at the movie theater
at the time just
see the guy show up every probably
pretty much every day
it was a off-duty job for me as a police
officer to work for extra money in front
of the movie theater
so we would start to say hello and then
later i would see him out in the streets
and that’s when i kind of
realized that he was homeless um now
homeless in the sense that uh you know
he didn’t
have a home but he was clean he was well
groomed uh took care of himself
uh he was in good health as far as i can
tell
um you know as a police officer we try
to
get people assistance but richard was a
very proud guy
and um i could tell he just didn’t want
me prying into his business and
you know we kept it kind of light and we
started a friendship and we were friends
for about
15 years a couple times i try to
get him into you know a shelter or
something um
but he he was uh he’s pretty adamant
that he was fine
in uh summer of 2015
you know i never like i said i never
really pressed richard about his life
uh we were sitting down we used to go
for coffee and sandwiches and he said
dave it’s time i i’ll tell you about my
life and
uh what i’ve done and and that’s when he
revealed this whole incredible
saga to me now um
one thing richard didn’t want me looking
into he’s he was adamant about is
that in the 80s 1980 he worked with
alcohol tobacco and firearms in an
undercover capacity
to expose a uh theft ring from fort
bragg
so he said look you know uh i’ll tell
you everything but i don’t want you
looking into that part of my life and i
thought it was kind of
a little strange and he said uh it could
be bad for your career a little
dangerous for my health
i used to be a former detective so it’s
you know once you tell me something like
that i’m gonna look into it
i tracked down the the agent he worked
with uh
richard worked with who was retired at
the time and he confirmed everything
that richard told me was true about the
case
six hours later richard gets killed in
the middle of night and
in a strange hit and run um
so it kind of just uh forced me to
to go on this uh journey of learning
about my friend and uh
trying to honor his life that’s uh
so complimentary it’s unbelievable and
what did you
where’d you start so uh
you know we he was uh born in stanford
connecticut
so i went up there i flew up there and i
met with family and friends
and i i learned that you know he was
born with uh
his mom had a rare blood disease i’m not
going to get too much into the medical
something about rh um positive
and then he he it caused his um
pituitary glands to stop working so he
was medically diagnosed with dwarfism
even as a child so before he took his
first breath they knew he
he was going to be a dwarf they didn’t
think he was going to grow to the height
of four foot nine they thought he was
actually
only going to get to like four foot five
or four foot seven but
richard out did them and and he grew up
to uh
four foot nine um like i said he fought
his way into the military
um supposedly uh
you know uh very well respected amongst
all the men
uh he in that first tour he was uh
awarded the silver star two bronze stars
and two purple hearts
and i do know that he was injured uh
more times than the two times
and then then he went back and you know
he he wanted to
even take it further and and uh that’s
when he got his green beret and
the he rose to the rank of captain um
richard was caught uh like a lot of the
guys in 1971 in the uh the rift the
reduction in force
where the army was downsizing so he was
let go or his contract wasn’t renewed as
an officer
and that was a a little bit of a tough
pill for richard to swallow
he always wanted to stay in training and
help out and teach
lessons of what he learned in vietnam so
um
we know that you know his trail gets a
little murky but he he was in
uh south africa working doing mercenary
work or private military contract work
uh there was actually a bunch of
americans that went over there i later
learned that they called themselves the
crippled eagles
those were guys who were uh rift out of
the military
that still wanted to fight communism and
a lot of them went to
to africa to rhodesia to what they felt
continue the fight against the chinese
and the russians and even
we know that some of the cubans were
over there training um
yeah after after uh
after that he um actually went back into
the military as a reserve captain
and that’s when he got caught up in that
undercover case
why he became homeless uh it’s really
just a lot of factors
obviously there was some ptsd that
wasn’t treated properly
um and uh
i don’t know he he was he was paranoid
uh maybe
all those operations that he did you
know they just they were haunting him
yeah that’s an amazing uh
well the background that you you know so
much about that
what what uh what was his life like just
before he died
um you know
he he he was a proud man uh
he was a man he was he was um
he really kept to himself uh
but he he was healthy he kept himself
clean his stuff
all his uh he kept all these things in a
storage uh
unit which i was one of the few people
that that knew about
uh so we went over there um i
try to get somebody from his family to
fly up and uh
i’m sorry fly down and uh take control
of it but but nobody could at the time
so
uh i i continue to this day to maintain
that storage unit and keep his stuff in
there because otherwise they were thrown
away
but inside that storage unit was almost
every breadcrumb i needed to learn
everything about richard flaherty
um letters military documents
pictures uh his his beret was in there i
mean there was just
there was just everything that was in
there um there is one
there’s one thing shocking uh at the end
with richard but there’s a lot of
shocking things so
that time period that i knew richard
that 15 years uh that he was homeless
and it wasn’t people
always ask me but are you sure he was
homeless yeah he he was homeless he
lived under a tree and
there was he was there 24 7. um the
the shock was when i went into that
storage unit uh i found a little box
with
looked like everything from a spy movie
including his passport
and it revealed in that time that he was
homeless that he traveled to
uh cambodia thailand uh amman jordan
iraq uh and he went to venezuela twice
and um nobody’s really sure what he was
doing who he’s working for
you know a that’s a special group of
countries i’ll tell you that
yeah he went to uh went to a little city
in venezuela called puerto la cruz
and i try to ask whatever you know
federal agents that i’m still friends
with
and they just said that’s a very
dangerous location right
we’d be there for a specific reason that
none of these places are for vacation
i guess besides thailand but um iraq
certainly
uh jordan um but uh you know i i filed
freedom of information act and
nobody’s really giving me any
information on richard uh
so that mystery is still open for any of
your audience that wants to try to help
solve it
i think we should let it rest in peace
to tell you the truth i
think i think i think sometimes you
shouldn’t look for answers you don’t
know
so you’re right right you know you’re
not gonna why kick a sleeping dog or
whatever they say
i’m with you on that yeah it’s not not
necessary
but he seemed like a real i mean
obviously he went to jump jump school
right
yeah yeah you know in the documentary
uh we interviewed you know a bunch of
the guys that were with him and
they were just shocked because the
equipment none of the equipment fit him
uh everything was down to his feet it
wasn’t down to his knees his rucksack
they actually uh used to have to strap
machine gun parts onto him because he
didn’t weigh enough to go down so and he
would just float off so i think
it’s the first few times he jumped no
really yeah he went too far
off with his weight and it took him too
long to descend
so they ended up strapping machine gun
parts on him and they would always make
him jump first
and they would see which way the wind
blew so
so that’s the wind detector okay yeah
nice
nice job they took a little rag out with
a little weight on the bottom to do that
and then they circle the drop zone so
they threw richard out and
he was light enough oh my gosh that’s
great
so okay so when he got the you said he
did two tours hey
so so his first uh first tour was i
believe december of 67
to december of 68 uh obviously
uh one of the first things he he was uh
sent up
north to uh the uh demilitarized zone
for the uh ted offensive yeah let’s just
show you one moment
we we went over together yeah i i um
i went over with him we not personally
knowing him but
second and third brigades left this
december 10th
at fort campbell and went to oakland
then to wake island
the philippines and then into benoit so
yeah we took that same trip
together i’m glad that i know i took
that trip with him now
he he talked to me a little bit you know
here’s here’s the
the the word you know here’s a good part
that people should think about
when when richard told me his life story
you know i
the first thing that came to my mind is
this is the most incredibles
first i didn’t believe him i i felt bad
i was like here’s my friend for 15 years
this is delusional
there’s no such thing as four foot nine
97 pound men
in the military i i even know that it’s
impossible
so i i didn’t believe him and i kind of
felt a little bad that you know
my friends that delusional but that
night i went home
and i checked on the on the internet and
i found an old newspaper article of him
running with a rifle
bigger than him and i was like this is
maybe the most incredible story
never to be told so i went back to him
the next day and i said
richard i i can’t imagine you
you overcame so much adversity in your
life you did the incredible the
impossible
you didn’t just get into the military
you became a green beret captain and won
the silver star
how did you go from there to on the
streets and
i don’t know how but i want to tell your
story i i mean i’m
i’m just a cop i’m not a you know i in
the back of my mind i honestly thought i
could convince somebody who really knew
what they were doing to make the film
because i don’t have any experience with
that right
right so he agreed but he had uh
he had uh three conditions condition
number one was
we start the project no matter what
happens uh you have to finish it
um uh oh number two was
if there’s ever uh um a feature film
hollywood film
brad pitt has to play him and then
he wants a million dollars so you shook
on that
but but here’s here’s the important part
in my mind i thought you know i see
richard for 15 years i thought we had
forever
i didn’t know we only had 10 days was
the countdown until
he passed so i think it’s an important
lesson that
never take anything for granted that
people are going to be here really
you know embrace things and live for the
moment and really
um you know i don’t want i don’t want to
make
richard’s story a sad or depressing
story
i think it’s it’s a story of an
incredible underdog
absolutely yeah it’s it should be looked
at
i i’d rather talk about his life than
his death um
the death was really strange and i can
go as a police officer into all the
bizarre things and
the the the person that killed him was a
also worked for another
police department um it just it’s
pointless to me
i’d rather talk about his life yeah it
makes sense to me
because i tell you what he has more
heart and gumption and and dedication
and
and servitude than any anybody i ever
know
i’ll tell you to tell you that
especially at that short shorter frame
it’s kind of like he was so dedicated he
was going to get what he wanted to do
what he wanted to do
regardless and he did it
yeah that was one you know theme
everyone i interviewed was that richard
was driven
he was tricky and in vietnam they said
he was tough
as nails some people felt he was a
little over aggressive in vietnam
but better to be over aggressive than
under aggressive
that’s for sure yes well yeah i mean
some people thought that he was
he was tough on the enemy he was real
tough but you know that he um
i ended up uh speaking to uh
colonel cushman uh i i called it
i was given a phone number at the 101st
airborne reunion
jack yes
yeah so so i i didn’t i would assume
that the man was that wasn’t here
anymore because he would be in his late
90s
and i called this phone number and out
of the blue he answered and
he remembered his little one meter
lieutenant and he said man he really
he said richard really took it to the
enemy
that’s a great that’s a great contact i
uh i have a bit small business i knocked
on the guy’s door one day to do an
estimate
and jack cushman opens the door wow yeah
he was the first first question he said
to me are you so short when i called him
he goes
what’s a cop doing making a documentary
yeah he’s a good guy he came to a couple
of our reunions at west point too
the owner first airborne best own
reunion that was really really nice of
him
yeah he actually i found in richard’s
things a letter he
personally wrote to richard saying hey
why aren’t you coming to these reunions
that we want to see you because i guess
it just wasn’t going to
there you go yeah well okay anything
anything else before you wrap it up no i
mean i just
uh if if your your public your audience
wants to see
where they can learn more about richard
um the book
is on amazon um it’s at barnes noble
walmart
it can be as a paperback e-book or
audiobook the audiobook’s about eight
hours and
the documentary is on amazon prime
google play tubey youtube so
uh you know just search just
searching google richard flaherty and
you’ll find a place to
what about searching a giant killer oh
i’m sorry
what about the searching the giant
killer so
so what so the the the original film the
first uh
version i did was the giant killer then
i came out with you know after
after the book came out more people
started giving us more information and
sending us pictures
so that’s i i we did the film as the
giant kill finding flaherty
uh that’s basically a redo on the film
with with all the new
pictures and new information yeah so and
so the book is the same name and so they
can look at it that way right
yeah the giant kill yeah great good for
you man thank you so much
appreciate the run that happened over
the weekend the victim a decorated
veteran decorated vietnam veteran killed
after a hit and run
a 70 year old decorated vietnam veteran
personal items and debris scattered
across the street where a vietnam
veteran was hit by a car
the driver never stopped to help
salute to you my friend thank you
okay brother take care you too
thank you thank you matt