“We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” ― Charles Bukowski
In November of 1967, at Doc Fiddler’s Pub on Sherman Avenue in Inwood, New York, a handful of men sat watching the evening news. There was another anti-war protest in Central Park that day. As the men drank their cold beer and watched the report, the bartender George “the Colonel” Lynch abruptly said:
“Somebody ought to go over to’ Nam, track down our boys from the neighborhood, and bring them each a beer!”
It cannot be a mistake of fate that John “Chickie” Donohue sat among the men in the pub that night. Nor that he thought Lynch was on to something.
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Soon after the Colonel’s comment, Donohue — who had served four years in the Marine Corps but wasn’t currently enlisted — got a job on a merchant ship transporting ammunition from New York to Vietnam. With a duffel bag loaded with American beer brands like Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon, off he went on a great adventure.
Two months later, Chickie was in the middle of a war zone on a quest to find his buddies. Once there, he begged, negotiated, often flat out lied, and finally traveled by all kinds of military equipment. He managed to locate four of the six men he intended to find. Walking into their world in jeans, a flannel shirt, and a smile he was able to thank each of the men and share a beer with them.
Donohue made his triumphant return to Doc Fiddler’s in 1968, to the astonishment of the regulars.
“The Colonel, who never drank on duty, poured himself and everyone else a beer and raised it,” Donohue writes in his book “The Greatest Beer Run Ever-A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War.” “To Chickie,’ he said, ‘who brought our boys beer, respect, pride — and love!'”
Over the years Donohue told the story often and was believed rarely, so he wrote a book , and self published it in 2021, and then of course, Hollywood came calling.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever, starring Zac Efron and Bill Murray will be in theaters in September of 2022.
Chickie and his four buddies reunited for a Pabst Blue Ribbon video in 2015. Check it out!