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!


  • Rob’t Black

    Brig Chasers were important for running the brig on ships when MarCor had seagoing detachments on carriers & cruisers (no more – USN MAAs run brig & chase prisoners). Had to take prisoner to chow, make head calls, shower, to area where could see outside for exercise, etc. One in 5 squids in the brig would always try to bolt, even tho they could never escape, especially underway. Detachment Marines were 03 MOS Grunts. First Sergeant was Brig Warden, C.O. (Capt – arty officer 08) was Brig Officer, XO (03) & Gunny were alternates but mostly had nothing to do w/ship’s brig except overseeing training of guards & guards acting as chasers, which also included doing ‘riot squad’ (SWAT-like) . Chasers & Riot Squad then had straight billy clubs. Our ‘big’ guard duty was securing the nucs, not prisoners; they couldn’t run.

  • David Bryk

    I was a a brig chaser when I was awaiting orders for school. Really just an escort duty of those who were returning from Awol or awaiting discharge from the Corps for less than Honorable service. Better than mess duty.

  • Floyd White 1860—

    Marine Barracks, Portsmouth NH. I have a photo of me chasing a prisoner….That is how I got my Chase Bank credit card.

  • Terrence Fonseca

    I still have my chase card / id from MCAS El Toro

  • Howard Koenig

    While stationed at MCRSS Charlotte NC 1966-67, we would get notifications of AWOL Marines in our recruiting area. Being the junior NCO, I would be sent out with one of the Staff Sergeants to get him. I would cover the back door and he while he knocked on the front. We were glad when no one was at home. We would also be sent out to county jails to identify detained Marines. In no case were we armed. Being chasers was one of the strange assignments we received while on recruiting duty there before getting our orders to ship out.

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