The Greatest Beer Run Ever? That’s what PBR calls John “Chickie” Donohue’s one-man invasion of Vietnam, using his merchant seaman’s papers, a ride as a crewman on an ancient Victory ship, and a bullshit story to visit his friends in-country: his best friend, Bobby Pappas at Long Binh; Tommy Collins, an MP in Qui Nhon; Ricky Duggan, a grunt with the 1st Cav at Quang Tri, who was out on the perimeter when Chickie showed up.
As he arrived back in Saigon after linking up with all three of his friends, he saw the sky light up, and heard with a sinking feeling that “That had to be the ammo dump at Long Binh” — right where Pappas was.
So he went back to Long Binh, where a very alive Pappas met him with a stream of invective — very welcome invective. Proof that his friend was alive.
Was it the Greatest Beer Run Ever? It has to be on the shortlist.
Exit thought: if you’re bummed out that the WWII and Korea vets in your family have passed on without telling their stories, remember that the Vietnam vets are all in their sixties and seventies now, and the actuarial tables describe the inevitability of their numbers dwindling at an increasing rate. It might be time to get Granddad or Uncle Jack on record while you still can.