Big Jim’s House

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Most people have not heard of John “Chickie” Donohue or his story but it is by far the “Greatest Beer Run” Story ever…

John “Chickie” Donohue, left New York in 1967 for Vietnam to track down and share a few beers with his childhood friends, who were serving in the Army.

In 1967, John (Chick) Donohue was a 26-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran working as a merchant seaman when he was challenged one night in a New York City bar.

The men at the bar were talking about family and friends that they lost in the ongoing war in Vietnam. After sitting there for a while they began seeing protesters turn on the troops. One man  proposed an idea that the other guys thought was ridiculous. Then he proposed that one of them should sneak into Vietnam, track down their buddies in combat, and give each of them messages of support from back home, maybe some laughs and beer.

Chick volunteered for the mission. He sailed to Vietnam on a cargo ship carrying a backpack full of American beer, landing in Qui Nho’n in 1968.  Chick got caught in the Tet Offensive, starting in the early hours as an eyewitness to the battle to retake the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, where he became stuck for months.

What came next was an 8,000 mile, four-month trip. Donohue trekked across a war-torn country, talked his way onto transport trucks and military aircraft, all so he could meet up with his buddies and share a beer.

Chick ran through his beer supply during the trip, but stocked up when they hit port in Qui Nhon harbor. “It took two months to get there, so I drank all the beer,”

Chick was able to locate the 127th Military Police Company, the same unit as one of the names on his list: Tom Collins.Chick pulled one of the MPs aside and made up sob story about looking for his brother-in-law, he gave the man Tom’s name and sure enough Collins arrived.

“I said, ‘Chickie Donohue, what the hell are you doing here?’” Collins told the Times. “He said, ‘I came to bring you a beer.”

After sharing a few drinks with Collins, Donohue set off to find the other names on his list. Donohue went from Qui Nhon, to Khe Sahn, then to Saigon, striking off names and handing out beers, then restocking.