The Giant Killer (2017) Movie Script

- Hello?
Hi, this is Officer Yuzuk
from the Aventura
Police Department
in Dade County, Florida,
trying to get ahold of
retired ATF Agent Fred Gleffe.
- Officer, I'm just
finishing up some work.
Is there anything I can
help you real real quickly?
- Yeah, I just
wanted to check on a story.
We got a guy
that frequents our city,
I've known him
for the last 15 years,
and he told me
this pretty crazy story,
and he said that he worked an
undercover operation with you.
- What's his name?
- Flaherty.
- Richard J. Flaherty?
How's old Captain Flaherty
doing these days?
- He's homeless.
Homeless, well that's a shame.
He was one hell
of an undercover guy.
- So it was true?
Oh yeah, it's true, absolutely.
After the trial, I was even
interviewed by 20/20 on CBS.
I might even have those tapes.
Let me give you a call tomorrow
and I'll go over the case
with you.
- That would be
great, I really appreciate it.
Hey, one last thing,
Richard kinda figured out
that I would check up on
a story, and he asked me
not to contact you or
anyone involved in the case.
- Why's that?
He said that it would be bad
for my career and
dangerous for his health.
- I doubt it,
it's been over 30 years.
But our operation did
piss a lot of people off.
Look, let's talk tomorrow,
I'll fill you in
on all the details.
- Hey, I really
appreciate the help.
Thank you, man.
Police investigating
a deadly hit and 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.
- My name's David Yuzuk.
I've been a police officer for
the last 17 years in Miami.
I've also worked as a detective
and undercover officer.
I met Richard Flaherty
about 15 years ago
and he was living
on the streets.
I offered to get him some help
but he said, no, he was okay.
After that, I would just
say hello when I saw him,
and eventually we started
talking about news,
jokes, politics, but I never
asked him about his background.
And I think he respected me
for that.
I heard
all the rumors about him.
Some people said he was
a tunnel rat in Vietnam,
other people said he was a
circus clown or some eccentric
millionaire that just chooses
to live on the streets,
but nobody really knew
who Richard was.
We started talking
more and more,
and we would sometimes meet up
for lunch.
At about the end of April
in 2015,
Richard, for whatever reason,
after all these years,
he finally decided to tell
me his whole life story.
He told me
he was the smallest man
to ever serve in the military,
and he became a captain
in the Green Berets,
serving two tours
in Vietnam and Thailand.
He told me he worked
undercover with federal agents
to bust a crime ring
that was stealing
tons of weapons and explosives.
He mentioned about being
engaged to the woman he loved.
And I couldn't help
thinking as he told me this
incredible story, how could
a man who overcame so much
adversity and beat the odds
by becoming a war hero,
how could he have ended up
on the streets?
It's May 9th.
I found out this morning
at seven AM
that my good friend
Richard Flaherty was killed.
At that point,
we had a traffic homicide
with no leads on the suspect.
Since I was the only one
that knew Richard kept
all his belongings in a
storage unit, I figured
we'd head over there, and
start the investigation.
Maybe we can find some clues
or leads.
I was so amazed when we
opened that storage unit,
and I saw all the documentation
and items,
and pictures that Richard
kept on his life from military
and medical records to letters,
poems, bank statements.
It seemed like
he was almost leaving me
all the breadcrumbs to
not only investigate
his death, but also start
to learn about his life.
And just like any other
investigation I've done,
I knew I had to start
at the beginning.
On our way to Port Charlotte.
The first person that
I knew I had to speak
to was Richard's
older brother, Walter.
I was really unsure
of how it was gonna go
because Richard told me
he and Walter
had a falling out and hadn't
spoken in over 10 years.
You guys were born in Stamford?
- Yeah, we were born in
Stamford, Connecticut.
I was born in '42, Richard
was born in '45, 1945.
Two of us got along very well,
Richard and myself,
during our childhood.
He was always small.
He was born small and he,
he always was the smallest
person in the class.
- Of course
people stared at him.
You know,
when he walked into a room,
or a restaurant, or whatever.
It must have been a handicap,
some sort of handicap.
Yeah, and I think that's why
he had to prove to everyone
that, you know, he was
somebody and he was strong,
that he's strong in body,
strong in mind.
And I think that's why he
got the military in his head.
- He was little,
he was always tiny,
but he was hard as a rock.
And in those days
you didn't lift weights,
you didn't,
nobody did that stuff.
Rick, my boss.
That's him right there.
So he's, he is small.
- I knew Richard
from high school.
We went to the same
Catholic high school
and he was really popular
in high school.
He was really smart and he
was on the football team,
and he was invited
to all the parties.
There he is, this is '64.
- Richard
Flaherty, the giant killer.
- He always said he
wanted to be a military.
He always wanted
to be a military,
and he knew at the time
that his height
might prevent him
from getting in.
And matter of fact,
the first time he applied,
they turned him down.
So Walter at this point
was a lawyer.
So he asked Walter to
write the congressmen
and have the politicians
put a word into the Army
about this little guy who's,
you know, he wants to do this.
And they finally approved it,
it took a couple of years,
and then when he went
he was underweight.
He said they told him "You
have to gain some weight.
You have to beef up a
little bit." Which he did.
And he started lifting
weights and everything,
and they were gonna let
him in with his height,
he was just too skinny
at the time.
So he did,
he did that and he beefed up,
and worked really hard,
and he told them,
he says,
"I can do it, I can do it.
Why-- Just give me a chance,
I can do it."
- And he was the littlest person
in United States military.
He got a special
congressional waiver,
I guess it was,
to go into the military.
- He never made a
complaint about boot camp
or about it being unfair,
or that they
should have made some
sort of accommodation
because of
the height disadvantage.
- He would jump out
of the plane first,
they'd watch to see where he
went, and then they'd circle
around and jump the rest
of the company after him.
- You're gonna exit an aircraft
in a Special Forces
training operation,
you're gonna be
carrying generators,
you'll be carrying weapons,
you got your parachute system.
You'll be jumping anywhere
from 80 to 100 pounds, easily.
You know, so that's a
lot of stuff to carry.
When you're only four foot nine,
it's that much harder
to carry that.
In fact, his rucksack,
which you would
strap down
below your reserve parachute,
it had to be close to
hanging on the ground.
For him to get out of the
aircraft with his rucksack
down here on his shins,
that's pretty tough to move.
The rest of us
it was maybe at our knees,
but he would've had it
down close to his feet.
So it's physically harder
for him to do that.
I would've never even
questioned his ability to do it,
because just from the
standpoint of who he was,
I mean he was just
tough, so he could do it.
- And he did it, you know,
and that's hard training.
It's hard stuff to get
through, there's a lot of guys
to this day that put in SF
training and never make it.
A lot of guys put in for,
you know,
101st Airborne stuff,
and they never make it.
If you saw his pictures
that you had of him
with all his military stuff
on running with a rifle,
and the caption was, I think,
smallest man in the military.
- Captain Rick
Lencioni invited me up
to the 101st Airborne's reunion
to see
if I could find more
men that knew Richard.
I thought that they might be
reluctant to talk to me because
I was a stranger in their
world, but it was the opposite.
They gladly shared their
experiences and stories with me,
hoping the next generation
understands the sacrifices
they and their friends
gave for their country.
- That's when we arrived.
- When you first got to Vietnam.
- Right.
Well we didn't know what we
was gonna really get into
when we left Fort Campbell,
we found out in a hurry.
Especially in January,
February, 1968
when the Tet Offensives
kicked off.
We found out right quick what
it was like to be in Vietnam.
Well, first time I saw
him, it was sort of funny,
'cause he was a real little guy,
and we thought it was
a joke to start with,
but turned out that he was
our platoon leader.
- Yeah, I never seen
anybody smaller than him
out there,
other than the Vietnamese.
- But everybody knew
Richard, he stood out.
For a little guy,
he had a big voice.
And you know, his voice carried.
Maybe it was something he
had practiced, but it worked.
- Was it a little
strange to see a guy that small?
- It was very strange,
when I first
looked at him,
I did a double take.
- When I remember
seeing recon platoon
going across the rice paddy
over there,
they were just
kinda all spread out,
moving across there, and
he was right in the front,
leading, had his map out,
he's looking at the map,
and he had this big stogie,
stogie was bigger than him.
But I remember he was leading
and they're were following,
and to me, I said,
"He's a good leader."
- There wasn't any doubt
that he was in charge.
I saw the respect
that was there, too,
because they knew that he,
you know,
he could be stringent at times.
- He always had that attitude,
he had that tough guy
attitude even though
he was really short,
he was always really
tough looking and always
very outspoken
and a forceful individual.
But he was very smug too.
He was very smug about it.
He just had that attitude,
he was a tough little prick.
But they like tough little
pricks when you're in combat.
They don't want that, you
know, milk toasty guy.
- He was full of fire, you know.
And always willing to go,
willing to do whatever
needs to be done.
- We would get these telegrams,
"Your son has been wounded."
And then a week or less later
we get another telegram,
"He's back in action again."
So even then,
his wounds didn't stop him
from carrying out his mission.
- That motherfucker's tough.
There was a lot of respect
for that guy,
he is a tough son of a bitch.
- One thing I didn't notice
about Richard right away,
it was, he kind of leaned
toward the ruthless side
a little bit, he was
pretty tough on the enemy.
At that point there were
no prisoners being taken,
and I don't know if that
was Richard's doing or not,
but he certainly
didn't show any emotion
towards what had happened.
When Flaherty and I did the
operation sweeping the village,
going down, we were actually
on opposite sides of the river.
And I think
it was in what we called
the Eight Click Vill
at that time.
It was this long
8,000-meter village
that ran with a river
running through it
and it was a known area where
you're gonna get contact.
You never went
in the Eight Click Vill
without running into the enemy.
For some reason they just
kept coming back there.
And so we're doing a sweep
and my unit had jumped some
North Vietnamese and Viet Cong
on one side of the river.
And we shot several of
them, but they weren't dead.
And I was gonna call for
a medevac helicopter,
you know, a dust off, to
get them out of there,
'cause I had the medics work
on them and it looked like,
okay well they're about as
stable as they're gonna get.
And so I'm radioing over
to Richard and I said,
I've got two Victor Charlie WIA.
And he said, "Roger,
two Victor Charlie KIA,"
and I said, no, no, WIA.
You know, Whiskey India Alpha.
And he says, "No," he kept
coming back with the KIA.
And I knew what he was saying,
'cause he was saying basically,
Let's just move on,
kill them, let's just go."
And I had guys in my platoon
that are looking at me,
going, "No,
we don't want to do this."
And so I said, "No, we're
gonna evacuate them."
And I made Richard stand down
and wait 'til we got
a chopper in there.
That's the way he was.
I don't know that he took
many prisoners,
if he ever took prisoners.
A lot of things that happened
like that over there,
we just, as soon as it was
over you forgot about it.
It wasn't anything
worth talking about,
'cause I'm not gonna do anything
to him
from a legal standpoint
or anything like that,
and he certainly
wasn't gonna do it to me.
I mean, he could've shot
somebody right in front of me,
I wouldn't have cared,
I'd have gone,
"Ah, I wish you hadn't
have done that, Richard."
And then an hour later
I wouldn't have thought
about it again.
Later on in the tour,
I became Richard's
company commander.
So now he's still platoon
leader, he's reporting to me.
He came in one time
to come see me,
and Richard would wear
this revolver on his hip,
and it had white handles on it,
almost like a pearl handle
type revolver.
I have no idea what
that was really made of,
but that's what it looked
like, it was like a six gun.
And he took it out of the
holster and pointed it at me,
and he's smiling,
and he spun it back
and put it back in the holster.
And then he does it again.
Now, we haven't really
said a word to each other,
and he puts it back
in the holster,
and he's smiling all this time.
And I had my rifle down like
this, and I went click, click
Which goes from basically safe
to full automatic,
and he heard that.
I said, "Richard, if that clears
that holster again,
I'm gonna stitch you
from your toes
to the top of your head."
And he just looked at me
and smiled,
and he turned around
and walked away.
He never said a word during
that whole encounter.
I was the only one that talked.
Why do you think he did that?
- To get a reaction from me.
He wanted to see what I'd do.
See if he could scare me.
- You know,
he'd look for a fight.
I asked him one day,
"Hey, you've gotten
in any trouble lately?"
He said,
"No, but I'm looking for some."
You know.
- In late summer of
'68, I was listening in
on the battalion net,
and the recon platoon,
which Richard was commanding
at time,
had come into contact with a
large NVA force, which was,
I don't know
if we ever really determined
how big the force was,
but it was
a lot larger
than his recon platoon.
They had set up
a defensive perimeter,
and they were being
attacked all night long.
The NVA, their purpose
was to overrun them,
to basically kill
every one of them.
And nobody ever had it
in their mind that they
were gonna surrender,
and I can guarantee you,
in Richard's platoon
that was not a thought
that anybody would have.
They're not gonna surrender.
And the fight began and
they fought all night long.
They found
with everything they had.
A lot of them became casualties.
In fact, I think probably
a majority of the platoon
with some type of casualty,
either killed or wounded,
but in the morning, they came
out of it and with the ones
that were left, that
were still able to fight,
that fought all through
the night, they killed,
I don't want to say 100,
but probably close to that,
of North Vietnamese were
killed in that engagement.
It was a big pile of NVA dead
around them,
but they were still there.
And Richard
commanded that whole thing.
Nobody could get to him.
The last thing you ever want
to do is run out of ammunition,
and I'm sure that night he was
probably getting close to it,
and I heard nothing
on the net that night
that indicated he was
getting any form of relief.
They couldn't have
done an airdrop
into a tight perimeter
like that,
you'd probably be giving
it to the North Vietnamese.
Yeah, you can't be that
pinpoint accurate on an airdrop.
Richard had several
casualties, and just constant.
All of us did, I don't know if
he lost more than others or not.
He was
a very aggressive officer,
so there's a chance that he
would have lost more people,
because he was very aggressive
and move
into contact
to engage the enemy.
But I can tell you that
his men didn't rebel
against him for that
because they trusted him.
- As far as being
a good platoon leader,
I think he done
an outstanding job.
- The first time
I met Richard Flaherty
was when I was, I checked
into the team house
in Houlihan to relieve him
of his command.
I was taking over that
detachment, and we shook hands,
we were of the same rank, so
we didn't exchange salutes,
but we shook hands and he
briefed me on the team.
We trained
the Thai border patrol police,
in an operation similar to what
US Army's Special Forces do.
Their assigned duties
were to patrol
the borders of Cambodia
and Laos and Burma.
I asked him some questions about
where he'd been and he
related he had been,
he was formally with the
101st Airborne Division
in Vietnam and he got wounded.
Later on I found out he
also got the Silver Star.
He had a demeanor about him
which says,
you would command
and respect it sometimes,
and then he had
a great sense of humor.
Being short, he had a
little Napoleonic attitude,
but that carried him in
his career in the military.
- After leaving the
military, Richard told me
he's gonna try his hand
in the garment industry
and open up a clothing factory.
- He wanted
to start his own business.
And apparently
didn't go very well
because he had ordered spools,
you know
how spools of material come in?
Well, by the spool.
They ended up in my
father's cellar.
And so I don't think
he got very far.
- He was kind of a character.
At one time
he had a clothing factory,
it didn't go well
and I bought him out.
I bought maybe 10,000 garments
that he had
left, whatever.
Children's wear.
I bought it all out
for $1 a piece
or whatever.
Something like that.
- Although the garment
industry didn't work out,
he did say it was worth
it because at the factory,
he met his girlfriend,
Jill Cohen.
They eventually moved to
Miami, where she was offered
a teaching job,
and then they got engaged.
- He was easygoing, very mellow.
He spoke very mellow.
Told me how he had
a six-foot brother.
I said, "What happened to you?"
He said, "I'm part Italian
and part Irish."
I said, "Oh you got the
Italian in you, then."
He would mention
little things like that.
He'd mention
about the girlfriend
he had, she was Jewish,
and for that reason the
family didn't like him.
And she was killed in a car
accident on 163rd Street.
The police report stated she was
killed in a one car accident.
That she was driving
at a high rate of speed
and she just lost control
of her vehicle.
- And he said that it's
the only woman he ever really
trusted and really felt like
that he had a connection with.
- After the death of
Jill Cohen, Richard's life took
a dark turn and his alcohol
intake spiraled out of control.
- About 1976, 1977, he came in,
and he found me,
I don't know how.
I was living in a different
house in Hollywood,
and he came in
about 11 o'clock at night,
and he had a rifle
he wanted to sell me.
An AR-15 rifle.
I know nothing about it,
now I would've bought it.
Now everybody's into guns.
He just came over my house,
he needed some money,
he wanted about $150 bucks,
and I said no.
I didn't know if he ever
used it on somebody.
What do I know?
- 1976, I was in Tampa,
he was in Miami.
He gave me a call and he said,
"Can I come and visit you
for a few days?"
And I was a little wary
of that, but "Okay, sure.
Supper will be ready for you."
So six o'clock rolls
around, he's not there.
Seven, eight o'clock
he's not there.
I just went to bed.
Then, two o'clock
in the morning,
boom, boom, boom,
at the front door.
I opened it up,
and Richard's there.
And he's completely drunk,
yelling and screaming.
He came into the house,
pulled out a gun, loaded gun,
told me about somebody
he wanted to kill,
and how horrible humanity is,
and that sort of thing kept
up at my house for three days.
On and off, very drunk,
yelling obscenities,
waving guns around.
- He wanted me to come see him,
and I never went down
to see him.
'Cause he'd say, "Will,
you come down to Miami
and we'll hang out,
we'll do this,"
and I never really went down
there because I still had
kind of a,
yeah, I don't know about
Flaherty stuff.
I always thought he was a little
on the edge, and I thought,
well, I don't know if I'd go
hang out with Flaherty again,
'cause we weren't always on
the friendliest of terms.
- He had a kitchen
counter, it was a kitchen,
but a counter, he didn't
have a kitchen table.
And had the chairs under
the counter, right?
And the counter happened to
be facing the front door,
so he had to go to work
at 11 o'clock at night,
and he, I can't remember
how he hooked it up,
the Uzi, to stand up, it
was standing on the counter,
and he said, "If somebody opens
that door, you shoot them.
You pull the trigger."
I said, "I can't do that."
He said,
"If somebody tries to get
in this house,
pull that trigger."
Oh, now do you think
I could go to sleep?
- Richard's downward
spiral continued until
he was arrested for possession
with intent to distribute
a large amount
of marijuana and cocaine.
As a police officer,
when you look
at Richard's overall record,
it's an anomaly
because usually with drug
dealers you'll see them
getting arrested numerous
times throughout their lives.
For Richard,
this was his one and only
big pop
in the drug distribution world.
Richard was able to get
the state attorney's office
to drop most of the charges,
and ended up
only serving a minimal time
in jail.
And then, strange as it seems,
somehow two old friends
meet again.
- I started to work
for a car dealership
in south Miami,
Perine, actually.
And I'm sitting there at
my desk one day, and we had
an ad running in the local
paper looking for sales help.
And in through the door
comes this short individual.
I paid no attention, and as
soon as he opened his mouth
to the receptionist, he
was barely able to reach
the top of the counter,
I yelled out, "Flaherty."
And then he turned around, and
I ran up to him, we hugged.
No, not hugged, what a
six foot one individual
would do to a four foot
eight, but we hugged,
and we had a great little short
reunion, and he got the job.
And we used
to go clubbing together,
and in Miami, at that time,
there were several places
that were open 24 hours a day.
So we hung out together
and we did what young
mid-20-year-old guys
did who were veterans.
And had fun.
Being of short stature,
Richard didn't take a lot
to get him inebriated.
Ever have to carry him?
- Actually, yes.
- Just scooping him up
and carrying him to the car?
- Yeah.
Or carrying him like a cradle,
cradle him.
He wasn't that heavy.
Do you remember that night,
like what was the circumstances?
- No, no,
I don't remember that night.
There were too many
of those nights.
- I had an apartment
for a little while,
after I get out of the
Navy, he'd come over,
we had a big dresser like that,
he'd pull out the bottom drawer,
throw his blanket in,
and he'd go to sleep.
He was a character, he did
silly stuff like that, I guess.
The 1980s starts another
interesting chapter
in Richard's life.
First thing,
he re-ups with the Army
and becomes a reservist captain
in the Green Berets,
serving out of Fort Bragg.
He also
starts working undercover
in a federal operation
that, to this day, is
still partially classified.
- He was arrested,
and there was threat of him
going to jail for gun running,
selling guns.
- He was working
with the Cubans,
the-anti Castro people,
and they had an armory
or something in the swamp,
or woods or something,
and he took the fall for it.
- Richard was also part
of a right wing
anti-Castro group
that was training soldiers
in the everglades.
Most experts speculate that
the entire training unit
was a covert
CIA backed-operation
put in place to stop
the spread of communism.
Richard was suspected of not
only training the rebels,
but also providing them
with weapons.
- This is
Al Dempsey in Miami.
Just five minutes away
from Miami Beach's
lush, modern
million dollar hotels,
men are training to fight
Fidel Castro's armies.
- I remembered that
Richard did tell me he worked
for Bushmaster Rifles
throughout his life.
I called the company and spoke
to a gentleman
named Mack Win Jr.
He told me that his dad Mack
Sr. started the company,
and it was eventually changed
to the name Bushmaster
and confirmed that Richard
did work for his dad.
It seems the tools of terrorists
and fanatics
aren't hard to come by
because they're stolen
from our military bases.
Sergeant Byron Carlisle
and Sergeant Keith Anderson,
both Fort Bragg Green Berets,
triggered the
Inspector General's report.
Both men were charged with
selling large quantities
of stolen munitions
to undercover agents.
You are about to watch
one of their transactions
as captured
by a hidden government camera.
The videotape was made
in a Key West motel
where Sergeant Anderson,
on the right,
is selling grenades to
an undercover agent.
Before they were arrested,
Anderson and Carlisle
had arranged to collect some
$65,000 for this inventory
that included
more than 60,000 rounds
of small arms ammunition,
24 land mines, 30 grenades,
20 pounds of TNT, and 36
half pound blocks of C-4.
- A lot of weapons
were being walked
out the door
by trusted individuals.
They weren't being taken by
some guy in a ski mask at night.
And in those days, munitions
were the equivalent of cash.
There's no difference.
Whatever you took, from a
bullet to a hand grenade
to a claymore mine,
to a whatever,
it had cash value.
- I had heard about Richard
many times from several
of the agents that he was
a former military guy,
that he had been arrested
on a silencer case,
and I also knew he had
a narcotics background,
and so as a result of that,
I approached the control agent,
and asked him,
"Look, would you mind
if I took control of Richard
and started using him?"
And so I made arrangements
to meet with Richard.
My first impressions of
Richard, when he walked in,
he was four foot 10, so
I didn't really believe
that he was who he said he was.
He didn't trust me,
and I didn't trust him,
which is obvious
for any type of thing.
But then I started
giving him my background
and telling him a little
bit what's going on,
he knew that I knew what
I was talking about,
about Fort Bragg, he knew
all the pieces up there,
he knew all the players,
and I did too.
And really, from that point on,
Richard was always
very faithful to me.
I either called him
on the phone,
he'd call me right back,
or he would call me saying
that "So and so called me,
and what do you want to do?"
And so from that point on, we
really hit it off pretty well.
And I did trust him,
'cause he understands
an undercover officer,
when you walk into
an undercover meeting
the first time
with a bad guy,
you are very, very,
very nervous that a lot
of things could go wrong.
Is it a rip off?
ATF agent's
been killed in Miami,
DEA's been killed,
FBI's been killed on that
first initial meeting
when they're meeting bad
guys they don't know.
And so that's what you
got to worry about.
I'm going off of Richard's
rapport with these guys
that they're gonna
accept me when I come in.
What was my role?
I was a drug dealer
out of Miami, Florida.
What my cover was?
I was up in Charlotte
trying to collect money
from a guy that owes, you know,
100, $2,000 in payment
for a drug shipment that
never made it up here.
Richard met me
at the office in Miami,
and we contacted Keith Anderson,
who was one of the first
defendants that we met.
When Richard talked to
Anderson on the phone, he said
he had a contact down in Miami
that was in the business,
and he said, but this guy
can probably provide you with
everything that you need and
had the money to do it also.
He said, so you know,
"We want to come up
and see you, and then we
can talk further about it."
But my contact in Miami,
meeting me, is into ordnance,
is into weapons, is into
anything that they can provide
to the cartel
down in South America.
And so at which time
Anderson bought it
and he said come up
and let's talk about it.
Richard and I flew up
to a small hotel up
there near Fort Bragg,
and Richard got on the phone
and he called and talked to
Keith Anderson on the phone,
again, to the best of
my knowledge, and so he,
Richard hung up the phone,
he said, "He's on his way."
Approximately maybe 20 minutes,
25 minutes later,
there's a knock at the door,
open it up and this big,
burly, stocky guy
comes walking in,
and immediately, he
starts saying, he said,
"Well, good to see you again,
sir," talking to Richard.
So he said, "Captain
Flaherty, how you doing?"
And so, from that point on,
I just felt
that there wasn't
gonna be any problems.
I kinda asked him, "What
are you looking to do?"
And he says,
"Well, I've got friends.
I've got partners
that want to go farther
with this type of stuff,
I can provide you
with ordnance if you can
provide us with narcotics."
And they wanted to control
all the cocaine
that came in
and out of Fort Bragg.
And so, I said, I says,
"Well, what type of ordnance?"
And we went into a long array
of different ordnances he has,
he says, "But I've got," I
forget exactly how much it was
right at that time,
maybe 50 pounds of C-4.
He had det cord, he had
timers, he had fuses,
all that type of stuff,
and he said,
"I can sell it to you tonight."
And so I said, "Alright."
I thought he had to go
somewhere to get it,
well it was in the back
of his truck.
And be brought it in a
big parachute kit bag.
And so he opened it up,
and sure enough
there was everything was in it.
Matter of fact, he even
had more than that,
we had two bags full of stuff.
Flaherty was all over it.
He was like a kid
in a candy store.
And I remember him
picking up a block of C-4
and smelling it, and he says,
"Ah, what a great smell."
I forget how much I paid
for it, I want to say maybe
1,000, maybe 2,000 bucks,
and he was ecstatic.
Anderson was ecstatic, he said,
"I finally found someone
that I think we're gonna be
able to get started with."
And he said he wants to
make arrangements for us
to come back up
and meet his partners.
And he said partners
to begin with,
and so I said,
"Okay, no problem."
Anderson started telling me
about that him
and another guy were involved
in a classified operation
camp that was down
in South America
and that he said,
"We got a very good scheme
of how we can get you
anything you want."
They were telling me that
they could supply me anywhere
from two and a half to five
tons of ordnance a month.
It was what the numbers
that were talked about
in the hotel rooms, and
matter of fact, the last one,
I believe the 105
rounds and stuff like that,
that came to about maybe
two tons of ordnance
that we got and then we
actually took them off.
We finally, we met Anderson,
he came down in a, I want
to say a U Haul truck.
Carlisle stayed, Carlisle
was always the smarter one.
Not saying
that Anderson wasn't smart,
but Carlisle
always kinda figured
out what the main deal was,
and so he stayed
up in Fayetteville,
in his home,
whenever Anderson came down.
And so Anderson came down,
he took all the side roads.
He met us a couple miles
away, it was in a little
orange grove, and we drove
down and as he's following me,
I basically just accelerated
with my car, and then everybody
closed in on him, and took
him off and arrested him.
He got out and he turned around
to go back toward the van,
and I believe he had a
gun in the front seat.
But he never got to it.
- That's clearly, it's the
fish rots from the head down,
and it was an earthquake
when we showed up
and started demanding the
accounting for these items.
- In their trial,
the sergeants said
they believe the munitions
they stole were
for contra rebels in
Nicaragua and Honduras,
and they thought
they were dealing
with a CIA-connected
arms merchant.
I spoke with Byron Carlisle
by phone several times
and he was very adamant about
the fact that he was innocent
and this was a covert CIA
operation being conducted
by Captain Richard J. Flaherty
in order to funnel
weapons down to
the anti-Sandinista guerrillas.
- They came up
with the CIA defense after
the whole thing was over
with, it was never before.
- Their whole defense was a
complete, utter bogus story.
These guys were guilty
all the way
from beginning to end,
and in the case
of Carlisle and Anderson,
it was all about the money.
- I got agent of the year
from US Attorney's office.
We never would've
gotten the case done,
if it hadn't been for Flaherty.
- After the excitement
of the undercover case,
Richard takes a job
at the post office.
- He never liked
the post office from day one.
And so he was irritated
big time.
- By the 1990s, according
to Richard's resume,
he was working as a freelance
writer and ironically,
he said he was working
on a documentary titled,
Homelessness: Problems,
Programs, and Solutions.
The ghosts of Richard's past
were starting
to catch up to him.
By the mid '90s,
Richard quits his job
at the post office and starts
living on the streets.
So sometimes at night,
you'd leave here
and you'd see
some stuff going on?
- A couple times, yeah.
I'd heard it once before
but leaving
about 2:30 in the morning,
walking toward
my car out here,
and under the tree
you just hear, like,
these vicious screams.
And it sounded like a struggle
going on, you know.
Walk a little closer, you
don't want to get too close,
you don't know
what's going on over there,
and you get closer and
you see it's just Richard,
you know,
sitting down against the tree
with his hands on his head,
just screaming.
Sounded like he was fighting
for his life, you know?
That's something
I'll never forget.
- He talked
about a few incidents
in the war
that were very unsettling.
We were talking about
the war and how people
don't understand,
this is after he came back,
you know, all the flack
for the Vietnam veterans
and everything, and he said,
"They don't understand.
They don't understand what
it's like being in the jungle.
They don't understand.
You know,
we had to eat bugs for dinner.
They don't understand,
and they criticize us,
and they criticize us."
And then he said to me,
"They don't understand
how we could
shoot our own man in the back."
And I said,
"What do you mean by that?"
They were
in a confrontation battle
or whatever they called it
at the time.
One of his guys freaked out
and somehow made a white flag
and went running toward
the Viet Cong, okay?
So Richard told his men
to shoot him.
And you know, that's a
decision he had to make.
I think that it stayed
with him always,
and the other horrors of war.
- If somebody in our unit
did something
that warranted
him getting killed,
it potentially could result
in a lot of people
looking the other way.
So if the platoon leader
is that strong,
and Richard was that strong,
and he decided,
hey, this guy's a danger
to all of us,
and they agree,
who knows what happens?
- Yeah, he lost three guys,
I guess on one mission
or something because
they didn't do, you know,
he told them to go this way,
they went did
something else and they
wound up getting shot.
But yeah,
I guess that really upset him.
Yeah, Richard,
you're a senior officer,
you give an order you expect
people to carry it out.
It wasn't his fault,
but I guess he carried that
with him too.
- Even when we were up
to Fort Bragg,
he never would sleep.
He would call me all crazy
hours and I was staying awake,
and so finally I told him,
I said, "Would you go to bed?
You know, would you go to bed?"
He says, "I can't sleep,
I can't sleep."
I said, "Oh,
you're nervous about that?"
He said, "No,
I'm not nervous about this,"
he said, "I just can't sleep."
- Richard, he was a figure
on the midnight shift,
you always saw him out there,
he was always awake.
Never slept, if he did,
he always had one eye open.
- He was carrying
a lot of scars,
emotionally, from the war
and from the fighting.
And the fact that he
was out on the streets.
We had set him up
in a condominium,
but he just sold it and
went back to the streets.
You think he just wasn't
comfortable sitting in one spot?
Or it just.
- I think he had the nightmares
of the war, you know.
It would get to him
for being in one place.
- I think it's a lot of things.
It's a lot of different things.
And I wish
that I could've gotten inside,
and we talked about it,
I talked about it.
I said, "I can't have you,
now that we're older,
I can't have you
living like that,
I just can't have you
living like that."
"Well, that's where I feel
at my best.
That's what I want."
And he was probably homeless for
almost 30 years.
- He told me how he got beat up
by three men,
they cracked his head open.
They picked him up and slam him.
- He was beat up pretty bad.
I saw him, and I came upon him,
I'm like, "Man,
the hell happened to you?"
"Got beat up.
Bunch of guys came out
and beat me up."
"Why didn't you call us,
"I'm not gonna call you
for these guys.
These guys, it's government.
The government
came to beat me up."
"The government came
to beat you up?
Alright, well, call us next time
the government comes
to beat you up."
"I'll beat up the government,
I don't mind.
I don't like them anyways."
- That was a shock to me
when I found that out.
I found that out
probably last year,
that he was just living
on the streets.
Seeing him interact with
other people and the way
he talked to me, it seemed
like he had a really good idea
of who he was and I wouldn't
of have expected him
to become a homeless
type of person.
And so the only thing I can
think of is that he chose to be.
- The first time I met him,
yeah, he was sitting under
a tree, the black olive tree
over here in the parking lot.
He was sitting reading a
book and I approached him
to see if he needed
any water or anything,
'cause it was a hot day in
the middle of the summer.
And he didn't have a whole
lot to say, he just said "No,
I'm fine."
and went about his business.
I approached him a few times,
talked to him,
and asked if he's a veteran,
and he said he was
and didn't really
get into it a whole lot,
but just asked if he needed
anything and a couple few times
I'd invite him in here
to take a shower,
get himself cleaned up
and he was happy to do that.
He was sitting on the back
porch when we had just had
some patio furniture delivered
a couple weeks prior,
and normally he was out
under a chair somewhere,
and in the middle of the night,
I had walked out to take
a phone call, and he goes,
"Do you want me to leave?"
And I was like, "No, no,
you don't have to leave."
And so he sat there and I think
he may have spent the
night on the couch there.
- I remember the first time
I saw him, I was a little boy.
My dad had taken me to the
mall for a Christmas event
and I remember
seeing Richard there,
he stood out
for a number of reasons,
but I had a tremendous
amount of compassion for him
and I had a lot of
respect for him as well,
not knowing anything about him,
and throughout my life,
I just remember seeing him
on the streets
and he just always seemed to
be level headed and kind.
- We run calls daily
on homeless people,
and sometimes, you know,
when we run calls
on these guys three, four,
five times in a week,
you kinda get
a little bit complacent
and you just may take them
for granted.
And I want the guys to
know that these people
are somebody, that they
possibly do have a story.
How much more tough
could their life be?
They're living on the streets,
what could you do
to them that would be worse
than what they've probably
been through or are going
through at the time?
We do have a couple that
tax us on a daily basis
that become regulars,
but Richard was not
one of those guys.
He didn't call,
and he didn't call us
up to come help,
he helped himself.
- I think to this day, though,
the reason why Richard
is always so bitter
was because he was ripped
out of the United States Army
with the reduction of force
after Vietnam.
And you know,
the military was his life.
- Everybody's expendable.
Nobody is special.
You can be replaced.
Here's a guy that literally
put his life on the line
for the government,
in a way, and for himself.
I mean Richard was a risk taker,
he got a thrill out of
what he did, you know?
So not like it was
a one way street,
but when you stick your
neck out as much as a guy
like that does,
being a tunnel rat
in Vietnam, I mean,
and then the government just
cuts you loose, that's tough.
That's tough.
- He just always said that he
really enjoyed being there.
He said
he never wanted to leave.
He said,
"I would've stayed over there
until they kicked me out."
He always was talking about,
you know, he missed wearing
a uniform every day,
he missed the camaraderie.
- When we were in 'Nam,
we had an enemy over there.
The North Vietnamese and the
Viet Cong, that was our enemy.
When we came home, we felt
as if we were betrayed
by our government,
and betrayed by the media,
and betrayed by the population,
by our country.
So you know, if you
want to know who I felt
my enemy was when I came home,
I would say, you're my enemy.
People who stayed here, and
civilians who stayed here.
When I came home, I was subject
to a lot of ridicule,
verbal abuse.
I'm sure Richard was too.
- I lost a lot of friends
over there.
I still have a hard time
making friends with folks
because I'm afraid something
will happen to them.
A lot of guys,
when they come back
from 'Nam,
they was messed up.
Still a lot of them
are messed up for life.
- The guy's telling me, he says,
"You need to go to the VA,
get some help."
And since then, I have, 'cause
I got PTSD on certain things
that happened to me
and so I can imagine what
he went through, being an
officer and you're responsible
for your platoon, or if
you're company commander,
your company, and you have to
do what you think is right.
- It took a long, long time,
and my wife,
you know, to help me through it.
And she put up
with a lot of stuff.
You know, waking up in
the middle of the night,
from a nightmare, you know?
Excuse me.
- They were left behind,
literally, there,
and they were left behind
by their own,
so whenever I talk, I always,
you always tell a Vietnam
veteran welcome home,
because they were
never told that.
On November 30th, 2009,
Richard goes to the VA hospital
and sees a psychiatrist
for the first time.
- I have been
living on the streets
for the past 21 years.
I have never
seen a psychiatrist before.
I used to drink two beers
and some wine per day.
In March of 1975, my girlfriend
died in an accident.
Other women I have lived with
have died,
and I have increased my
alcohol intake to a lot more.
I feel depressed and anxious.
I request this treatment for
my depression and my anxiety,
and also help
to get off the streets.
- In order to get
authorized for treatment
for his PTSD,
Richard was asked by the VA
to provide written examples
of what he saw in Vietnam.
- We came under fire.
One WIA.
I flanked the enemy
and killed one VC with an M-26.
My fire team leader
was shot in the back.
He died a foot from me.
I could hear
his internal organs collapse
and watched his body
shrink a bit.
Sergeant Meeks was behind me.
Seconds later, the M-60
gunner was hit in the head.
I saw the hit.
When I got to him,
1/3 of his skull
was blown off,
exposing his brain.
Two VC refused to surrender,
and were armed with
at least one M-2 carbine.
An M-26 was ordered dropped
into the spider hole.
When we dug them out,
it was then discovered
they were two VC females,
about mid 20s, alive,
but one had a fist-sized star
shaped hole in her forehead
with a piece of brain
on top of her skull.
The other, blood streaming
from her ears and missing part
of her fingers, I was
a foot and a half away.
Called medevac,
then found a zip lock bag
with lipstick, rouge,
and one ounce of perfume.
This humanized the enemy,
cutting my effectiveness
as a leader in half.
- Richard was also
diagnosed with skin cancer
on the top of his head,
which he attributed
to being sprayed
by Agent Orange.
- While assigned to
D Company, 501st, we could see
the plane spraying Agent
Orange on the Laotian border.
15 to 20 minutes later, we
could feel a mist on us.
Also, when I was leaving
Vietnam in December of '68,
I was sprayed
while at Camp Sally.
Same scenario.
Three planes in formation
near the Laotian border.
- His wounds
that he had incurred,
because you know, he would get,
bombs would blow up near
him and you get tossed
and you know, you're not
really the same after that.
You got bruises
and deeper wounds.
- I found this one box
in the back of the storage unit.
And I opened it up and it was
like everything
from a spy movie.
There was
a Spanish English dictionary,
maps of Venezuela.
Tapes to learn
how to speak Arabic,
two knives,
two what we would call in
police work throw down phones,
and all these handwritten,
cryptic notes.
I then made
my most shocking discovery.
I found his passport.
And here I'm thinking
this little homeless man
that I knew all these years,
he was secretly traveling
all over the world.
To Amman, Jordan, Iraq,
Cambodia, Thailand,
and on two separate occasions,
he went to Venezuela.
- The biggest red flag to me is,
how are you paying for this?
- My first question is,
where'd the money come from?
- How the hell did he travel
to all these places being broke?
Exactly, and you have to have
money coming from somewhere.
- As a risk taker, Richard
would find great pleasure,
as he derived his whole
life, from doing something,
which A, involved risk,
and B, made him stand out.
And so, you know,
there's a lot of places
in this world you can go
and get yourself
into a whole bunch of trouble
if you want to.
And usually
it involves merchandise
of one kind or another.
- Richard might have gone back
to the dark side, too,
I don't know.
You know,
maybe doing some deals here
and doing some deals there,
I mean I don't know.
- He wasn't a traveling
person, I guarantee you that.
So he was doing it for a reason.
- He called me one day,
I was surprised,
and you know, says,
"I need $800.
I lost all my money
and in order to get home."
I didn't even know he
was over in Thailand.
- He told me in a letter he
was going overseas somewhere,
Thailand or someplace like
that, I'm not sure where it was.
But he was fixing
to go overseas,
and he would get with me
when he got back.
After that, that was
the last I heard from Richard.
- I was going away on vacation
and he asked me if I would,
if he sent me a check
for $5,000 would I keep
it secure for him,
and I said, "Yeah, sure."
And he said, "And then
if I need any money,
you know, you can send it to me.
I'm going to,"
words to the effect of like,
"deal with my enemies."
And I said,
"What do you mean by that?"
And he said, "Well,
there's a couple people
that need to be taken care of."
And I said,
"Okay, don't tell me anymore.
I don't want to hear anymore."
- He was always
going after them,
or people who owed him money.
For what?
I don't know.
It's a piece of puzzle
I can't, I have no idea.
You know,
you're such a great guy,
how can you have
all these enemies?
What did you do that was so bad
that you have all these enemies?
- 2007.
Richard was requesting immediate
deployment to go to Iraq
and serve as a special
forces advisor in Kuwait.
There is a chance that
he might also have been
going over there
to work as a private
military contractor,
or even a mercenary.
In 2009, and also later in
2012, Richard's passport
and other documentation
that I found reveals
that he traveled to
Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.
I spoke to some other federal
agents who had experience
in South America about
what's there and they advised
me it's a port city and that
right now it's very lawless.
Matter of fact,
even in '09 and 2012,
it would be a dangerous place.
Richard would be going there
for some type of business
or assignment.
- The stuff I did
in central America,
it was training,
and I did have older
special ops guys
because they're going over there
to train.
So his age, actually
his age is no problem.
Maybe they're sending this guy
over there
and I've seen it where
they're sending older SF guys,
older Seals to go over there
and train
the , to train
the upper management.
To train the police forces,
to train,
not to do the field stuff,
but the infrastructure.
- I said, you know,
what's going on with that?
He goes, "Oh, well I do work
for the CIA and I do work
for the ATF,
and I'm a consultant,"
and things like that.
I said, "Oh, okay."
- He is the perfect covert
operative to go in there
and do things because
nobody's gonna think,
they're not gonna look
at him and be, I come in,
and I'm not a big dude,
but I'm in shape,
I got tattoos, I can't hide
in plain sight.
That guy, that's the type of guy
that can hide in plain sight.
You know what?
Going back overseas, though,
is where you feel normal.
And that's where he may,
I'm sure he still wanted
to go overseas, 'cause you
go overseas and you work,
the post-traumatic stress
isn't there,
'cause you're back in a
element where your adrenaline's
always up here, where
in the United States,
it's right in the middle
and we don't like
to live like that.
I'm sure he's the same way.
If I met him,
he'd tell me the same thing.
I'm either all the way up here,
or I'm sleeping and I'm
all the way down here.
There's no middle.
And I'm sure, because of
his passport,
because of that he did,
he went over there to be normal,
to feel like he did when he
was in Vietnam, and I get that.
- One time,
I have caller ID on my phone,
about maybe 15 years ago.
And the phone rang,
and I always look
at the caller ID,
it said Fargo, North Dakota.
Who the hell do I know
in Fargo, North Dakota?
And my son was living with me
at the time,
he says, "Mom, just answer it."
He says, "That's bizarre.
Just answer the phone."
It was Richard.
What the hell are you doing,
the man who hates the cold,
why are you in Fargo,
North Dakota?
"I'm tracking down
some of my enemies."
- I spoke with a manager
at the hotel
Richard stayed in,
in North Dakota,
and she confirmed he traveled
there in both 2003 and 2008.
And the two times
he stayed there,
he went there both times in
February, in the dead of winter.
And at this time,
I still haven't
located any persons
or reasons for his trips.
- Grand Forks, that's brutal
that time of the year.
Now, there are Air Force bases,
there are
military installations all
along that corridor,
and there's some pretty
high-profile Air Force bases
out there.
That's used to be
the big time Cold War,
that's where if we're gonna
hit Russia with nukes,
it's the Dakotas, that's
where the places are.
- I filed Freedom
of Information Act requests
to both the State Department
and the CIA.
Neither turned up any
further investigative leads,
both stating
that they can neither confirm
nor deny any knowledge
of Richard J. Flaherty.
That last week
in Richard's life,
he was really in great spirits.
I think he was happy
to finally open up
to somebody
and tell his life story.
We would meet up almost every
day at either the coffee shop,
the gas station, or the
Subway sandwich shop
and he would tell me more
pieces about his life.
He also agreed
to let me help him with
his ongoing battle
with the VA hospital.
Another officer that I work with
was able
to get Richard a meeting
with some of the top people
who are advocates in Miami
that help vets
like Richard get all
the proper treatment he needed.
The night of May 7th,
I went to speak to Richard
under his tree, but he
was already sleeping
and I didn't
want to disturb him.
Before I left, I felt
like I just needed to take
a picture of him because
I didn't have any.
It seems in the picture
like the light is pointing
to exactly where he was
killed only two nights later.
- The morning of May 9th,
I was riding my bike,
and I have a very specific
route I take, and as I did,
and I made that turn, I noticed
the engine was out there,
and the scene tape was
up, and out of curiosity
I took a peek as I passed
through and I noticed
it looked like Richard,
and that's when it hit me,
and I couldn't believe it
at first.
- Yeah, we all recognized him
right away and called for,
you know, the Aventura
Police Department showed up
and you know, you could tell
he had been struck by a car.
- When I responded on the scene,
I met the officers
that were already here,
and one of them said,
"Oh, the little guy
that's always around,
he got hit by a car."
And when I walked up,
I recognized his,
I knew his first name,
I never knew his last name.
- I remember it was very early
in the morning,
I got the call
that we had a fatality.
It was a pedestrian
versus a vehicle.
And they told me it was,
you know, Richard,
and I said, "Which Richard?"
And they said,
"The little Vietnam vet."
And right there,
I almost, you know,
I dropped my phone because,
you know, I knew him.
This is the first time
where I conducted
an investigation where I
actually knew the victim.
- We started
reviewing surveillance video
to determine what kind
of car may have struck him,
and we were starting
to compare the debris
that we had found,
we initially felt
it was probably
someone that was DUI
or impaired from some of them.
- According to the
official police report,
the subject, Miss Sokolov,
is an employee
of the Miami Dade Police
Department and was working
at that time as a stenographer
for their homicide unit.
Miss Sokolov stated that
although she normally works
at the office 'til 11 PM,
that night she worked late
and left at approximately
11:50 PM.
After hitting Richard,
she then drives home,
several blocks away
and exits her car.
She paces up and back,
looking at the damage
on the exterior of the vehicle.
She then states that she decided
to walk back to the scene
that night to try to see if
she could locate what she hit.
About an hour later,
she returns home
and calls her insurance company.
- Thank you for calling
Kemper Specialty Claims,
this is Amber speaking,
how may I help you?
- Good evening, Amber,
my name is Leslie Sokolov.
And I was coming home
from work tonight
and something hit my car.
And I don't know what hit it,
but there's damage to my car.
- Have you
notified any authorities
at this point,
have you contacted police?
- No, I hadn't
because there was nothing
that was visible that
could've hit my vehicle.
- Okay.
- I thought
that it was a palm frond
that hit my car,
but I don't know,
not with the damage that I have.
I don't know.
At the time that it happened,
I didn't see another vehicle,
but when I got home
and I parked my car,
I walked the route
that I had driven,
and I didn't see anything
other than some other vehicles
that were
in a separate incident.
- During the course
of our investigation,
we determined that
Richard was walking north,
probably just outside
of the crosswalk.
He was walking
from the public side
towards Walgreens,
across 199th Street.
He was struck with
the front left fender
of the vehicle
and causing him to,
he was walking
facing northbound,
car was heading eastbound,
so it struck him on his left
side and towards his back.
When he went back
from the impact,
he hit his head on the
edge of the windshield.
As he's walking across,
right about that line
is where he was struck,
but outside
the crosswalk
to the right of it.
- Just out of curiosity,
if she's coming from straight,
wouldn't she have clear vision
of whatever's in front of her
If Richard
was crossing the street?
- Absolutely,
there's no obstructions
in the roadway that would've
obstructed her view.
There're streetlights here,
there's a streetlight
right here.
This is a well-lit
intersection, in my opinion.
It's not pitch black,
it's not dark.
There're streetlights,
there's traffic signals,
there's businesses in the
area with lights on at night.
I feel that she should've
seen him, had she been
cognizant of what
was in front of her.
You know,
based on seeing Richard walk,
you know,
it's not like he darted out
into traffic,
he wasn't a runner.
Richard didn't run into traffic,
he walked at a slower
than normal walking pace, so
it would've taken him several
seconds for him to cross
the roadway from where we're
standing across the road,
and she should've seen him.
- In your
experience with these type
of accidents,
is it normal not to brake?
- Generally,
when you're in a crash,
or there's some sort of loud
noise or impact with your car,
a lot of times
the person's first reaction
is to jam on your brakes,
and to us,
there was no evidence of that
because there's no skid marks,
there're no evidence
of any braking.
- If you hit a bug that
hits your windshield,
that, you know, at 35,
40 miles an hour,
just a bug, that big,
you can hear it.
A 100-pound person,
it's gonna be multiplied
by that much amount,
I mean you're gonna
have extensive damage.
You're gonna have blood,
you're gonna have tissue,
you're gonna have hair all
over the front of that car.
- The damage on the
car was definitely noticeable
and significant,
and the person driving
knew they were
in some sort of crash.
She claimed that she just
didn't know she hit a person.
- When I saw him he was halfway
in the bushes, halfway out.
It was definitely obvious.
- As soon as you walked up
to the bushes, you could see,
the bushes are no more than,
you know, 24, 30 inches tall.
How far you think you would
have to be able to see him?
If you were 10 feet
away would you see him?
- Yeah. For sure.
- It's a little bit
out of the ordinary with
that amount of damage not to
stop, call the police, say hey.
- We found that pretty
telling that she didn't notify
the police but she bothered
to call her insurance company
to claim the damage
on her vehicle.
- The next
morning at about nine AM,
she decided to again
walk back to the scene
to see if she could locate
what she hit.
Despite seeing the street
blocked off by the police,
despite seeing a yellow
blanket used to cover
Flaherty's body, and despite
being told by a bystander
that there was a hit and run,
Miss Sokolov still,
for her own reasons,
decides not to notify
the police who were standing
right there on scene.
Once at the Miami Dade
Police Department,
she notifies a supervisor
and tells him that she believes
she might have been
involved in a hit and run.
At approximately 1:30 PM,
a Miami Dade police sergeant
notifies the Aventura Police
Department that one of his
employees might have been
involved in a traffic homicide.
- And then I get a phone call
saying that,
from the detective
saying that "I may have
your driver and I may
have your vehicle."
And I sprinted over
to the Miami Dade
Police Department headquarters.
So I met with the detective,
he met me outside.
I talked to him, he told
me that, he showed me
the vehicle
that may have hit Richard.
He said
that the driver's inside,
just beside herself
with remorse.
So I went inside
and I spoke to her,
and she was almost destroyed,
she couldn't keep it to herself.
I basically
took her statements down.
I asked her more questions,
finished the interview,
and then I gathered
all my information
and went back to my sergeant.
We spoke about it,
we talked about it.
We put everything in a packet.
I typed everything up,
that's when we started calling
and talking with the
state attorney's office.
They just felt that they gave
her the benefit of the doubt
that she just didn't know
what she hit.
And I was specifically told
to not arrest the driver.
- We have a lot of DUI
activity out there, right?
And if you did hit somebody,
and you know
you've been drinking,
are you gonna stop?
Now, am I saying
this woman was drinking?
No, I don't know
nothing about that,
but I do know that it's a
problem in South Florida,
we have a major problem
and there's
really nothing
to be done about it.
It's just happenstance,
if you're unfortunate enough
to be in the wrong
place at the wrong time.
And unfortunately, Richard was.
- There was one
last obligation I owed
to the family, to go
through his footlocker.
So in his things
I found a document
about a woman named Lisa Davis.
- He asked me if I would send
checks to this cemetery in,
I think it was West Virginia,
is that where he was buried?
And he said
he wanted to be buried,
he had spoken to the people
that ran the cemetery
and he had wanted to be
buried in the vicinity
of this woman who he
had been in love with.
- Why choose to be
buried in a small cemetery
in West Virginia, when
he could've been buried
in Arlington's
National Cemetery?
I found a letter
that Richard wrote
to Lisa's sister in 2008.
In the last paragraph, I learned
his true feelings for her.
- I've been in
love with Lisa for 33 years.
I will be in love with her
for the rest of my life.
On this plane and beyond,
for death
will never separate
my love for her.
- I also found poems Richard
wrote to Lisa, and I even found
a will where Richard left
whatever he had to her family.
I spoke to Lisa's sister
Melinda and she told me
her sister died
of blood poisoning.
This now explains what
Richard was talking about
in the psychiatrist's
office when he mentioned
that more than one woman in his
life that he loved had died.
Even though I've been
researching Richard's
entire life
for the last two years,
the enormity of the
moment was very powerful.
To actually see
and hold his uniform,
to see all his medals
lined up on the desk,
it brought the myth of
Richard Flaherty into reality.
This is the Silver Star.
During his two combat tours
in Vietnam,
Richard was decorated over 13
times with the Silver Star,
two Bronze Stars,
two Purple Hearts,
the Gallantry Cross,
Combat Infantry Badge,
Army Commendation Medal,
Parachute Badge, Air Medal,
Vietnam Service Medal,
Vietnam Campaign Medal,
and the National Defense
Service Medal.
- When we got to the mausoleum,
he was already laid out.
It was kind of a small,
it looked like a chapel.
Small, very small.
And the casket was open
and I was,
terrible, it was terrible.
The post, they played Taps
on the trumpets,
I guess it's the trumpets.
And that was really,
we couldn't help but cry,
my son and I,
just crying and crying.
- He was bigger than life
and such a little guy.
That was the comical part too,
you know?
He's just such a little guy,
but there's
so much intelligence
and creative ability,
creative thinking, spontaneity,
it was all there in Flaherty.
- Richard was comical
by his height,
but he also had
a sense of humor.
And if you challenged him,
he would challenge you back.
So he was not gonna back down.
- I think Richard, deep down,
that's probably what he wanted.
A normal life, but it
wasn't in the cards for him.
- I noticed they had a memorial,
a little makeshift memorial
in the bushes.
I tried to get a sign
put up for him.
A small way of honoring him,
and it never happened,
the city gave us
all this red tape.
And then one day I was
talking to Cap, and said,
Cap, I have this sign
and it's for Richard,
and told him a little bit
about his story.
He goes, "You know what,
we're gonna put it up."
We did, it's still there,
which is a good thing,
but it was our way of, you
know, taking our hat off
to him and he deserves
way more than that.
- It's tough, and to watch
a veteran of a war,
a highly decorated veteran,
just walking the streets
and eking his way through life,
it's heartbreaking.
- Sad, it's a pretty sad ending.
- You know, that was just
very difficult for us,
to not be able to bring
closure and justice to Richard.
- You know, Richard
should have had better.
- He definitely was a hero.
There's no other way
to describe him.
I'm privileged
to be his brother.
- Richard J. Flaherty
was finally laid to rest,
not in a hero's grave,
but as a simple man
in an obscure cemetery
next to the woman he loved.
As I think about this
journey into searching
into Richard's life, I
really feel honored that
he opened up to me, and I'm
honored to have known him.
But I'm saddened to think
that he's not
the only homeless vet
that's on the streets,
who's too lost to reach out
and connect with anybody.
So Richard Flaherty
is telling me
the story of how
he was the shortest guy
in the military
for his knowledge.
Go ahead.
- Well according
to the army itself,
there was no one shorter
than four nine.
You got to be five foot
to get in the military.
So I wrote a congressman
and a three star general.
I would take a physical.
I was allowed in, and they
called me on a Friday and well,
you gotta a recommend waiver
for your height but now
your weight,
so they said one day you have
to come up another physical,
we got to weigh you.
You have to be 100 pounds,
I was only 97,
so I had to gain three
pounds over the weekend.
Well, I gained six.
They stayed with me
till this day, I'm 103.
That began the whole escapade.
I went to basic AIT.
- Where were
you stationed in 'Nam?
- We began at Bien Hoa
we went up north
for the Tet Offensive,
I was up there
with I-Corps close to
the demilitarized zone.
- What was your rank?
- I began at a, by then I
was a second lieutenant,
by the time I left I
was a first lieutenant.
- And what years
were you there for?
- In Vietnam, I was there
December 17th of '67
through December 17th
of 1968, and went back
and went into the Special Forces
for three years, and then--
- Who were you with
with the Special Forces?
- Began with the Third Special
Forces Group for training,
then I went over to the
46th Special Forces Company
in Thailand, and I came back to
the 10th Special Forces Group
in Fort Devons, Massachusetts.
That's why
I have my Green Beret.
So you were a Green Beret?
- Yeah.