John Chickie Donahue is an American citizen who was born in a Manhattan neighborhood called Inwood, and served for four years in the Marines, doing sandhog work, subway work, known for tunneling, and other subway construction projects, known as urban mining.
Chickie Donahue fact
In 1967 the war in Vietnam was in full swing, was about to start the so-called Tet Offensive, at that time about 11,000 soldiers belonging to the U.S. Military, died in combat during that year.
In February of that year, the largest airlift that had been seen in the aftermath of World War II took place. The U.S. Marines had commitments to the North Vietnamese Army at the time the U.S. Military was pursuing the Viet Cong forces.
During that year, Mr Donahue witnessed a number of funerals of soldiers who had lost their lives in Vietnam and were from the Inwood population, and was haunted by demonstrations by pacifists who spoke ill of the troops stationed in Vietnam.
One day Mr. Donohue was sitting at a bar and heard the bartender, a gentleman named George Lynch, say that the soldiers who were in combat in Vietnam deserved a cold beer and a pat on the back.
Mr. Donohue thought so much of those words that he sought a job that would allow him to board one of the Merchant Marine ships that transported supplies and ammunition to Vietnam, where he managed to work as a ship's oiler on the Drake Victory, and would serve as a merchant marine.
That's how he packed his things and chose to carry supplies of beer and on the next trip he sailed for Vietnam.
Donohue spent two months on that trip, drinking all the beer he had, so when he arrived in Vietnam he had to replace it.
After arriving at Vietnamese soil, he began the search for his friends who had enlisted in the US Military and were active participants in the war.
Donahue first place of arrival was Qui Nhon, a port where To Collins, one of his sought-after friends, was stationed in a military police corps.
Donohue traveled all over Vietnam in search of each of his friends, going through many risky moments, and even getting shot by the enemies.
All of this led Chickie to write a book with journalist Joanna Molloy, which she titled The Greatest Beer Run and which is sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, a famous Milwaukee beer popular for its blue ribbon, which she originally used to identify her best drinks, eventually acquiring over a million feet of this ribbon for her entire production. Pabst Blue Ribbon also presents the video "The Greatest Beer Run Ever".
Chickie's friends in combat were comforted by the man's behavior toward them, many of whom he helped to endure the traumas of war.
The New York Times, through one of its reporters, evidenced the reactions of Chickie's friends when interviewed, some of them with morale low because of news of the deaths of former friends, the beers Donohue brought them, encouraged them to keep hope of returning.
A true story of friendship in the midst of war is told in Chickie Donahue's book "The Greatest Beer Race of All Time", which will be made into a movie soon starring Viggo Mortensen and directed by Peter Farrelly.