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?

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Colvin L. Sanders, Jr., MSgt, Ret.

    Off topic, but there’re a couple of entries in my SRB bearing your signature — I volunteered @ RSS Charlotte, March ’66 — SSgt Henderson was my recruiter. Semper Fi!

  • The Deuce

    At boot camp in ’69, I sprained both ankles and got dropped from my platoon, 2 wks prior to graduation, and sent to MRP (medical rehabilitation platoon). Once I could walk, they assigned me to chaser duty at CC (correctional custody). My job, every night, was mainly to wake up the 4 or 5 bed wetters every 30 minutes and escort them to the head and back. They were not happy about it. I was real glad to recover and get reassigned to another platoon and go on to graduation. Vietnam bound.

  • HM3 Richard Bohan

    When I was stationed at the clinic on Quantico I was assigned as a brig chaser. I would pickup two or three prisoners from the brig. We would have the prisoners do work around the clinic. It saved a lot of minor work for the people at the clinic.

  • Howard Zang

    I also know what a Chaser is since I was sent to Chaser Training while stationed at MCAGCC 29 Palms. I was never called to act as one while I was in, but it got me work as a Bail Enforcement Agent (AKA Bounty Hunter) as a civilian. The Bail Bondsman I initially went to work for got super excited when they learned that I was a Chaser in the Marines. I eventually went free lance and worked for several Bail Bondsmen. My partner and I (he was Navy) managed a 98% capture rate. The ones that “got away” were ones who left the area and went so far away that it was decided that it wasn’t worth the cost to go get them. For me, it was just another additional duty, which I seemed to get a lot of during my 2 enlistments. A rare title to get and not many people, Marine or otherwise, know about it.

  • Gerardo Zamora

    I was a chaser at Camp Lejeune while stationed with 2nd Recon Bn. Back in 89-92. I would go to the brig to pickup 10 prisoners and take them on working parties. They would often fill sand bags or just do cleanup. I also got to escort a marine who had deserted in the early 80s and got caught in 91. I picked him up at the brig, and he was assigned to our unit for the duration of his court martial. I escorted him to his court martial every day until it was over. Once over with he was taken back to 2nd Recon Bn for discharge and released from there. And for those wondering about the time frame and the Gulf War, I was not able to go to the Middle East. I was “voluntold” that I was staying back as a rear party while the rest of the Bn deployed.

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