Was Tommy Minogue a Real Soldier? How Did Chickie’s Friend Die?

In Apple TV+’s war film ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever,’ John “Chickie” Donohue is a US Marine Corps veteran who arrives in Vietnam during the Vietnam War to give beer tins to his friends stationed in the country as a token of gratitude. Chickie aspires to meet a half-dozen soldier friends and find out any information concerning his close friend Tommy Minogue, who went MIA from a war zone. Since it was Chickie who motivated Tommy to enlist in the army, he feels responsible for the fate of his friend. Naturally, the viewers must be intrigued to discover whether Tommy was a real soldier and what really happened to him. Let us share the answers!

Was Tommy Minogue a Real Soldier?

Yes, Thomas Francis Minogue AKA Tommy Minogue was a real soldier. Chickie and his gang were friends with Tommy’s older brother Jack, which made Tommy a “little brother” to them. “As courageous as Tommy was, he was a sweet kid. He was big, but he would never think of bullying anyone. He never wanted anybody to feel left out, and he found a way to include kids no one else would want to play with in the team sports in Inwood Park or in street games,” Chickie wrote about his friend in ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War,’ the source text of the film.

Image Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Tommy signed up in the US Army at the age of nineteen and a month, joining the Second Battalion of the 25th Infantry Division’s Thirty-Fifth Army Infantry as a platoon medic. He was sent to Kon Tum Province, located in the Central Highlands, on Vietnam’s border with Laos.

How Did Tommy Minogue Die?

Tommy Minogue was killed in action on March 21, 1967. According to the testimonies of his fellow soldiers, Minogue and his company were attacked by North Vietnamese soldiers. After reportedly killing most of the soldiers of the company, the opposition soldiers were aiming to kill the company’s commanding officer Captain Ronald Rykowski to further attack the rest of the US soldiers. During the attack, as a platoon medic, Tommy was treating his fellow soldiers and returning fire. Since the commanding officer was the only person who can call for close air support, indirect fire, and Medevac, Tommy recognized the need for protecting him for the greater good of his company.

As per reports, Tommy ran through thirty meters of severe opposition fire to protect his commanding officer Rykowski and treat his wounds. When the opposition attack increased in intensity, Tommy reportedly shielded his commanding officer with his own body, receiving multiple gunshot wounds. Even after getting hurt, as per sources, Tommy joined a radiotelephone operator to move his superior officer to a safer position. When the opposition soldiers continued their attack, Tommy again covered his commanding officer’s body. Until succumbing to his mortal gunshot wounds, Tommy tried his best to treat his superior.

Due to Tommy’s sacrifice, Rykowski and the radiotelephone operator managed to continue operating the command post and call for air and artillery support, which saved the lives of several other US soldiers. Tommy was posthumously presented with the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor and sacrifice which saved the lives of his fellow Americans. Chickie and his friends continued to meet regularly to honor Tommy’s memory. In 2021, Tommy’s name was attached to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale, Long Island, to make it Thomas F. Minogue Armed Forces Reserve Center.

Over the years, Tommy’s friends, including Chickie, have championed the need for honoring Tommy with the Medal of Honor, the highest and most prestigious military decoration awarded to soldiers who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor.

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