The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War

The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War

by John "Chick" Donohue, J. T. Molloy

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

The plot of this memoir MIGHT sound like a shaggy dog story told in a bar. Part Gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson, the hit-the-dirt reporting of a Ken Burns documentary and the twinkle of an eye from Frank McCourt of Angela’s Ashes fame. Donohue’s story is wild, nearly unbelievable, and full of heart. We were riveted. From NYC to Vietnam — our pulse increased as he raced from location to location. This book will show you how to make friends all over the world as you celebrate your very own friends back home and abroad — no matter the extenuating circumstances.

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

INSTANT USA TODAY BESTSELLER

“Chickie takes us thousands of miles on a hilarious quest laced with sorrow, but never dull. You will laugh and cry, but you will not be sorry that you read this rollicking story.”—Malachy McCourt

Soon to be a major motion picture from Peter Farrelly, director of the Academy Award–winning Green Book—a wildly entertaining, feel-good memoir of an Irish-American New Yorker and former U.S. marine who embarked on a courageous, hare-brained scheme to deliver beer to his pals serving Vietnam in the late 1960s.


One night in 1967, twenty-six-year-old John Donohue—known as Chick—was out with friends, drinking in a New York City bar. The friends gathered there had lost loved ones in Vietnam. Now they watched as anti-war protesters turned on the troops themselves.

One neighborhood patriot came up with an inspired—some would call it insane—idea. Someone should sneak into Vietnam, track down their buddies there, give them messages of support from back home, and share a few laughs over a can of beer.

It would be the Greatest Beer Run Ever.

But who’d be crazy enough to do it?

One man was up for the challenge—a U.S. Marine Corps veteran turned merchant mariner who wasn’t about to desert his buddies on the front lines when they needed him.

Chick volunteered.

A day later, he was on a cargo ship headed to Vietnam, armed with Irish luck and a backpack full of alcohol. Landing in Qui Nho’n, Chick set off on an adventure that would change his life forever—an odyssey that took him through a series of hilarious escapades and harrowing close calls, including the Tet Offensive. But none of that mattered if he could bring some cheer to his pals and show them how much the folks back home appreciated them.

This is the story of that epic beer run, told in Chick’s own words and those of the men he visited in Vietnam.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062995476
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/2021
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 334
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

John “Chick” Donohue joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen, then became a Merchant Mariner after his discharge. After the war, he became a Sandhog, or tunnel builder, and eventually became the Legislative and Political Director of Sandhogs, Local 147, Laborers International Union of North America., and graduated from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government He is married to Theresa “Terri” O’Neil.


J.T. Molloy was a staff reporter and columnist at the NY Daily News, the NY Post, and New York magazine. She has written for Politico, Esquire, and Interview. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Table of Contents

Map xi

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 One Night in a New York City Bar-The Colonel's Challenge 1

Chapter 2 Gathering the Names 11

Chapter 3 Setting Sail 15

Chapter 4 Voyage to Vietnam 21

Chapter 5 Anchored off Qui Nhon 27

Chapter 6 Looking for Chuckles's Brother 31

Chapter 7 The Texan Couldn't Care Less About Orders 39

Chapter 8 The Good Samaritan in An Khe Looked Familiar 43

Chapter 9 LZ Tombstone 49

Chapter 10 "Who's This Guy?!" 57

Chapter 11 "Wait a Minute-You Don't Have to Be Here, and You're Here?!" 61

Chapter 12 Firefight at the Ambush Post 65

Chapter 13 Screams on the Night Road 73

Chapter 14 An Air Force Pilot Does Me a Favor 79

Chapter 15 Stuck in Saigon 85

Chapter 16 American Money Is Good for Bribes 89

Chapter 17 The Caravelle Rooftop Bar 93

Chapter 18 Finding a Seafaring Friend 97

Chapter 19 Happy New Year, Baby 101

Chapter 20 Beaucoup VC 109

Chapter 21 Broken Truce 115

Chapter 22 The American Embassy Under Siege 119

Chapter 23 Battle at the President's Palace 129

Chapter 24 Am I Dead and in Purgatory? 135

Chapter 25 Befriending a South Vietnamese Cop 141

Chapter 26 A Giant Floating Freezer Full of Food in the Midst of Famine 145

Chapter 27 Coast Guard Brass: A Big Job on a Big Ship 153

Chapter 28 Australian Marines Lock the Caravelle Up Tight 159

Chapter 29 Finding Bobby 163

Chapter 30 Explosion at Long Binh 171

Chapter 31 Helping a Descendant of the Mayans 181

Chapter 32 C.D., Phone Home 185

Chapter 33 Please Do Feed the Animals 189

Chapter 34 "We Cannot Win" 197

Chapter 35 "We're Outta Here!" 201

Chapter 36 I Kiss the Ground 205

Afterword: Reflections on the Journey 209

Where Are They Now? 215

Addendum: The Neighborhood-Inwood, Manhattan, New York City 225

Bonus Chapter: BBQ and a Beer-Can Shoot with a Powerful Stranger 231

Acknowledgments 241

Bibliography 245

Photo Credits 249

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