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Do You Know What a Chaser in the Marine Corps?

For those of you who are not sure, no I’m not asking about what you call
the second drink you take after a shot. Let me relate a couple of examples of
what a chaser is or does:

  1. It was during staging for Vietnam in 1969, we were on the firing range with these new weapons, the M-16. For those of us, that humped the M-14, this seems like a joke and a few protest about having to fool with these things. Anyways, one of the guys must have gotten into some real trouble with the Range NCOIC because I was called out of line and ordered to stand watch over this Marine. The Range NCOIC used the term Chaser and because of the question on my face, he explained what I was supposed to do. I’m grunt—I mean, after all, my MOS was 0341 that had to mean something special. Sorry—let me get back on track. It was told to me that I was to stay with this Marine and not let him leave the area and to chase after him if he attempted to run. I ask what happens if he can run faster than me. The Range NCO stated that I would take his place—that was not going to happen! I followed my orders and turn this guy over to the MPs when they showed up. I was glad to be done with that duty.

  2. I’m in VN with Golf 2/5 minding my own business and trying not to volunteer (which is how I got to Vietnam in the first place). The company gunny told me to report to Bn.HQ back in AnHoa. It was once again explained to me that I was to be a Chaser for a Marine who had been charged with using drugs. I was ordered to take him to DaNang for a Court Martial Division. By the way, I was not provided with transportation. We manage to catch a couple of choppers and a truck Division. The man was in full compliance with my efforts to get him to DaNang but then again I was carrying an M-16 and a .45—no way was I going to run after him. On the way back, I found us a place to spend the night and some chow and a ride all the way back to AnHoa. The (now) PVT. went back to his company and I went back to the brush. I thought this job would never get done.

  3. I got hit in Vietnam and sent to the Naval Hospital in Flushing, an area in New York City. Once I was able to get around, I was assigned to the Marine Liaison Office at the hospital I would go on to the wards in order to deal with anything the Marines needed or wanted to be done (usually personal gear and calls home). The S/Sgt called me in one day and explain that a Marine who walked away from his unit in Vietnam had managed to get back to the states because he needed medical treatment. He also needed to be taken to Brooklyn Naval Yard for processing. At this point, I started wondering if there was something in my personnel file about my various experiences as a Chaser. I was issued a .45 (I really like that weapon) and instructed not to let anyone question this Marine or get near him. I think it goes without saying that I had no problem with these orders—we all lost friends and/or did our jobs in Vietnam. This coward was not going to have it easy. We sat in the last seats with me on the outside of him and no one got near us. Once we got to the Marine Barracks at the Naval Yard, a 2nd.Lt. was going through this guy’s file and stated that he had 30 days leave coming to him and would he like to take it today. WHAT!! I’m serious. This Lt. gave him leave even thou I explain what my orders were and why. My friends, I’m not BSing you at all. It has since dawn on me that maybe this Marine was a “spook” instead of what I was told. I met one when my unit was at Liberty Bridge; so I know they were there. Anyways, time passes and I’m on leave back home watching the news—we often got news from NYC. It was reported that a Marine deserter was being taken back to the Naval Yard from the hospital when he manages to get away from his guard (chaser) while crossing one of the bridges in the city.

I don’t know about all of this but these are true stories—I kid you not….
Once I got discharged from Marines after ten years of service, I went to college earning two BAs and an MA degree and worked/retired as an Intensive Probation/Parole Officer. I guess you would say the experience of being a Chaser in the Marines paid off for me. It still seems kind of crazy to me—why me?

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Roger Duggins - March 1, 2022

I was recovering at the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes in 1970 as a Corporal. While waiting for orders, I was assigned duty as a cross country chaser. I found it an interesting assignment. NOT! We transported murderers, rapist, druggies, deserters, and whatever to Ft. Leavenworth. Got orders to Camp Pendleton, and guess what? Was assigned NCOIC of the chaser unit at Headquarters Company, 2ndITR.
Semper Fi!
MSgt Roger Duggins

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Maribel - May 29, 2020

I know the feeling; I was told the same thing.

Ray Robinson 1959 – 1963 - May 29, 2020

Hey, Robert, I was in 3/1, India Company, !st Platoon during the Cuban Crisis. I remember we had a CG inspection that morning. I did not realize or remember part of the BN went aboard an APH. We were on an APA and thru the Panama Canal. Sailed around for a goodly number of days. Then to Vequis PR for a little field work. We all got the s____ from bad turkey for Thanksgiving..Ah, the memories. Anyway, hope you and your family are well. Semper Fi Brother.

Donald Girouard GySgt Retired 1968 to 1993 - May 29, 2020

Cross country chaser at Marine Barracks Great Lakes from 1971 to 1973. We covered the 9th Naval district and would be out picking up Marines from city and county jails from those 11 states. 4 of us would fly down to Louisville, Ky on Sunday night or Monday morning and would do a bus route up through Ohio to Mich then back to the brig at Great Lakes getting back on Wed night. The other 4 Chasers would fly or drive the remaining states picking up Marines Monday to Wed taking them to the brig. On Thursday morning we would take our miss guided Marines to Ohare in Chicago to fly to either Cherry Point or Naval Air base Miaire in Calif. The Chasers from the east and west coast would pick up their Marines from us then we would fly back to Chicago to start the next week. We would usually have over a hundred Marines for each coast. The Air Force provided 141’s and reserve crews to fly us each week.

Robert McLeod - May 29, 2020

I was a brig chaser on the USS IWO JIMA LPH 3 when my BN (3rd Bn 1st Marines)mountated out for The Cuban crisis on October 25 1962.The Bn Cmdr.took all our marines from the base brig with us when we deployed? They had bread and water in the ships brig for the marines who had NJP while we were deployed. For the marines not on bread and water I would march them to the galley for chow shouting all the way make a hole prisoner coming through! The brig was located 5 decks down on the bow of the ship and did not make for a easy ride in bad weather. Coming back from Cuba after passing through the Panama Canal we hit a big storm and my prisoner in his cell was making fun of me as I called for Sgt York while bending over a water bucket that was filling up fast! I had just turned 18 on October 22 and had one month in grad as L/Cpl.

E.G.Reynoso (Sgt, USMC 1949-1952) - May 29, 2020

I was told that under Under the “Rocks and Shoals” if a Chaser lost a prisoner,for whatever reason, the Chaser served his time. Never checked this out.

Cpl Bob Korean era - May 29, 2020

I was a Chaser at the McAlester OK Naval Ammunition Depot in 1952 (now called Army Ammunition Depot for some reason). Anyhow, I was assigned Brig Duty and Chaser Duty. I did not receive any training whatsoever. I was just told if one got away from me, I had to serve his term. We had this one swabbie who kept going AWOL and would get caught in the Oklahoma City area. He was jealous of his girl friend and was always checking on her according to is alibi. I had to go get him in OKC more than once. He was finally sent to the Naval Pen in Corpus Christi TX. for awhile because of his repeated offenses.Took him there by Train. The rest of the guys just got into local trouble like a lot of guys do. Would use them for yard work, and general cleanup work around the base until they went to trial. We were told to not let anyone walk between us and the prisoner. If so, we were to nab them. My experience as a Chaser.

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