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4-foot-7 recruit joins Marines, likely makes history

Marines unfold a Marine Corps flag during the Iwo Jima Memorial Service in Lubbock Sunday. (Jayme Lozano/A-J Media/TNS)
September 08, 2023

In a striking example of resilience and determination, Pfc. Nathaniel Laprade, standing at a mere height of 4 feet, 7 inches, might be the shortest Marine in the almost 250-year history of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Having recently graduated from the grueling 13-week boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, Laprade defies convention, redefining what it means to be a Marine. Sharing his thoughts on how his height played a role in motivating his peers, Laprade said, “I think they kind of looked up to me in a way. I had one recruit, now a Marine, who told me that I was his motivation.”

Although no official records confirm who was the shortest man to serve in the U.S. military, Laprade is likely among the contenders. According to Stars and Stripes, prior to Laprade’s graduation from boot camp, Richard James Flaherty, a Green Beret who served in Vietnam, held the informal title.

Known as the “Giant Killer,” Flaherty stood at 4 feet, 9 inches. Laprade noted that hearing about Flaherty’s service in the military from recruiters during his time in high school inspired him to strive for even greater heights.

“The main part that inspired me was that he was Army and 4 foot, 9 inches,” he said. “If I go Marines when I’m 4 foot, 7 inches, I will beat him in two ways.”

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The journey was never easy for Laprade. During boot camp, he faced challenges designed without consideration for his height, but he persevered through every challenge. “It showed me that mounting the obstacles wasn’t really a challenge because of my height,” Laprade said. “It just meant I needed to push myself to jump a little higher.”

Laprade’s greatest challenge came during long ruck marches, where his shorter legs had to keep pace with the pack. “Little legs with a little body weight, a lot of weight in the pack, and a lot of miles in the hikes. That was the hardest part for me, the hikes,” he stated.

Laprade’s story serves as a powerful reminder that heroism and leadership can come in all shapes and sizes.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.