NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – How far would you go to bring your buddies a beer?
Modern day Don Quijote, John “Chickie” Donohue went all the way to Vietnam.
“It was the right thing to do,” he tells WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “My buddies were in danger.”
In 1967, Donohue – a then-26-year-old merchant seaman – hopped a ship.
“I winged it. Literately, I went on planes and helicopters, and I winged around the country,” he says.
Wearing civilian clothes, he talked his way through checkpoints and various bases. He never said he was CIA, but he also never said he wasn’t.
One night he found himself with a unit on ambush patrol.
“They thought there was a chance the place was going to be overrun and gave me a weapon,” he says. “I was scared.”
The reality of the Vietnam War set in.
“That’s when I realized this was a stupid thing to do,” he says, “Chickie, you shouldn’t have done this.”
He tracked down four friends from the old neighborhood.
“He came walking through the door, and I almost had a heart attack,” says Bobby Pappas.
It gave him hope.
“If this guy can run around the country the way he was running around the country, there was a good chance that he was going to get back, I was going to get back,” he says.
With the help of a reporter, Donohue has penned a book, titled “The Greatest Beer Run Ever.”
“Fifty years later, that was a pretty stupid thing to do, Chickie. But still, for the young man that I was at that time, it was the right thing to do,” he tells Adams. “I’m glad I did it and I can look my friends in the face — these four guys — and I know – they’ve expressed in different ways – they appreciated that I showed up just to say thanks.”