In 1968, John “Chickie” Donohue made the the greatest beer run ever. Chickie was a former merchant Marine from New York City who became disheartened after seeing all of the protests against the war and blatant bashing of soldiers serving in Vietnam.
He was talking to a bartender one day who said he wanted to buy all of their friends currently serving oversees a beer. Chickie made a promise that next time he went to Vietnam, he’d take the guys a beer. Much to Chickie’s surprise, the bartender gave him the names and addresses of three soldiers he wanted Chickie to take beers to.
As Chickie explains simply in the video, “A lot of my friends were serving in Vietnam. I just wanted to go over there and buy them all a beer, and that’s what I did.”
With just a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a few addresses, Chickie snuck back into the war zone pretending to be looking for his step-brother. He hadn’t seen any action during his previous tours in Vietnam, so he didn’t quite know what to expect.
When the ship pulled into Qui Nhon, he saw Tommy Collins (the first name on the list) right off the bat. After Collins got over the initial shock of seeing Chickie there (dressed like he was going on a golf outing according to Collins), the men shared a beer and went out drinking.
Next, Chickie headed north to Quang Tri to find named number two, Ricky Duggan. He found him, and they shared a few beers. Chickie had a scary night there, hearing gunfire in the near distance. He returned to Qui Nhon a couple days later and found that his ship had sunk.
The last person on the list was Bobby Pappas who had heard from Chickie’s wife and knew he was over in Vietnam. When Chickie showed up north of Saigon where Pappas was stationed, the guys spent a few days partying. After he returned to Saigon, Chickie saw massive explosions at the base where Pappas was. Thankfully, he traveled back north and found Pappas alive and well.
All four of the men met up for the first time again on June 30, 2015 and recalled their surprise in seeing Chickie in Vietnam that year. They expressed gratitude for him risking his life and showing the troops oversees that someone still cared about them, their service and their sacrifice.
We strongly advise that no one try to top (or replicate) what is now known as “The Greatest Beer Run Ever.”