John “Chickie” Donohue: Biography and the Real Beer Run

Full name

John  Donohue

Occupation retired sailor
Date of Birth 1941
Family status
Height/Weight – cm/ – kg
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John Donohue is a US Army soldier, sailor, entrepreneur who became the subject of a high-profile true story about a trip to Vietnam, which was later called “The Greatest Beer Run Ever”. In 2022, the film of the same name was released, which tells about the adventures of John and his friends during a daring journey. The cinematic version of events describes Beer Run in sufficient detail, but does not reveal enough details of the life and biography of John Donohue. Wikipedia is limited to an undeservedly short note about a man and does not talk about what he is doing now.

John Donohue Biography

A future example of true male friendship comes from New York. He was born in Inwood (Manhattan) in 1941. His parents were immigrants from Ireland. He grew up with Irish friends. The Donohue family lived quite poorly, so after graduating from school, John did not find a better occupation than to enlist in the army. His older brother went to the Marine Corps. 17-year-old John did the same and became a Marine in 1958.

In the late 1950s, the situation in the Far East was difficult after the end of the Korean War, so the young guy immediately got into a hot spot. From about 1959 to 1963 (according to some sources, 1964), the young guy served in the Philippines and Japan. During this time, he received good military training, witnessed the work of the US Army, but did not enter into real combat contact. He received veteran status with no real combat experience. In 1964, he left the service and began working as a sailor on merchant ships.

In 1967, Donohue became a casual participant in a conversation about the Vietnam War at Doc Fiddler’s (New York). The desire to have a hand in the events in the Far East gave rise to beer history.

John "Chickie" Donohue biography

Chickie Donohue Family, Wife and Children

Chickie is of Irish descent. His parents were Irish. He had a wife and children, but there is no information about their life in open sources. Personal life and events after the beer race remain secret.

True Story of The Greatest Beer Run Ever

John "Chickie" Donohue biography

Long-distance travel was not uncommon for John. By the end of 1967, he was already a fairly experienced sailor. His military background left him depressed because many of his Irish friends were fighting and dying in harsh conditions. It remains a mystery why Donohue did not go to the front as a volunteer. The book about those events and numerous interviews do not give an answer to this question, and journalists bypass the uncomfortable nuance.

For a trip to friends, the young Irishman chose the ship Drake Victory, where he worked as a greaser. Usually, open sources report that this ship and position were chosen specifically for a trip to Vietnam. If so, then in the fall of 1967, John was unemployed.

The details of the trip itself are disclosed in sufficient detail in the book The Greatest Beer Run Ever, which was published in May 2017. It was written by John himself and Joanna Molloy (an American journalist who specialized in gossip). Information about most of the real events of the winter of 1967-1968 is located there. However, the authors definitely used artistic techniques in the book that could distort the chronology.

In Vietnam, John Donohue handed out a lot of beer. Most of it went to give gifts to soldiers and employees, which contributed to a smooth journey. The guy planned to visit 6 friends, but he managed to please only four.

The New York beer drinker may not have come home. He ended his journey in Saigon, which became the epicenter of the Tet offensive. In the spring of 1968, the young man returned home.

Movie vs Book vs Real Facts

John "Chickie" Donohue biography

The film does not have as many details as the audience would like. He doesn’t answer many questions, including how the beer stayed cold, how Chickie was able to bring it in safely, what he did before he went on the trip, and what he did after he got home. History is a reality, but over half a century it has grown into conjectures, so you should not count on 100% accuracy. Even Donohue can’t share all the details of the Vietnamese adventure.

John “Chickie” Donohue Now

After the trip, the sailor worked in his specialty. But his trip was overgrown with legends and made him quite a popular person in New York. This is probably why he was able to purchase Doc Fiddler’s Bar. He owned it for several years, but now the place is no longer in operation.

In 2015, a short documentary about the events of 1968 was released. Most of the direct participants of the beer race spoke about their memories.

Now Chickie is very old. He is an ordinary American pensioner. However, he has a good capital, which any retired sailor can envy.

John Donohue Net Worth

John "Chickie" Donohue now

In 2017, The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War was published. John co-wrote it with veteran journalist Joanna Molloy. She, along with her husband George Rush Jr. wrote many articles about gossip, intrigues and scandals. The book became a bestseller and brought the authors a good income.

In March 2021, the first version of Chickie’s Journey Movie without the star cast was released on Apple TV+. The audience was well received by the real story of friendship.

After the success on the streaming platform, the showrunners decided to do a bigger project. Thanks to the fact that the producers were able to attract Zac Eforn and Russell Crowe to the shooting, the expectation rating began to break all records. The audience showed great interest in the adaptation of the crazy story.

This greatly affected John’s capital. He received a fairly large amount, but according to the terms of the contract, the exact numbers should remain secret. Given the success of his book and the film adaptation, his net worth could be in excess of $1 million. He received most of his fortune as an old man.

John “Chickie” Donohue: Biography and the Real Beer Run
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