The Green Berets, the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, are the military’s premier unconventional warriors. And Richard Flaherty was, perhaps, the most unconventional Green Beret warrior to ever serve. 

Flaherty served with the 101st Airborne during Vietnam. He was awarded a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. After Vietnam, he did contract work for the CIA all over the world. 

But he had to fight to even get into the Army and the Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS), going so far as to get his congressman involved. The reason was that Richard Flaherty was just 4’9” tall.

Years after Vietnam, David Yuzuk, a career Miami Beach police officer, struck a friendship with a confident but unassuming homeless man. After 15 years the man told Yuzuk, “It’s time I tell you who I really am.” The homeless man was Richard Flaherty.

Yuzuk finally learned the man’s story and began a quest to discover all there was to know about this diminutive man who cast a giant shadow in combat.  

Flaherty, far right, pictured with his platoon in Vietnam in 1968. (Richard Flaherty Facebook)

As he began digging into Flaherty’s background, Yuzuk decided to write a book, having previously put together an award-winning documentary on the man’s fascinating life. To do so, he enlisted the help of his father, Neil. The book dives into some of the details of Flaherty’s life that weren’t in the documentary. The trailer for the documentary can be seen here.

The book begins with Flaherty’s bizarre death. He was killed by Leslie Socolov in a hit-and-run incident. Socolov who worked for the Miami-Dade homicide division and who, despite leaving the scene of a deadly accident, was never charged with any crime, recently made headlines for an anti-Semitic rant caught on camera.  

Richard Flaherty was always sensitive about his height. When he was young growing up in Stamford, Connecticut, he set about achieving the best possible physical condition he could and started learning martial arts.