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!


  • GySgt Bobby Yarbrough, Retired,

    I was a Chaser, not to the extent of this author, but at Camp Lejeune, when a person was sentenced to brig time I would take them there, turn them over to the brig personnel. I was told that if they got away from me that I would also take their place.

  • Billy Ashworth

    I was a Prisoner CHASER at Camp Lejeune in 1961 when I was discharged after 10 years being a Prisoner CHASER IT HELP ME GET A JOB AS A PRISON GUARD

  • Phil Mason (E4 Cpl 10th and 12th Marines)

    Yup, I know because I was one once. When I cane back from 12th Marines and Asia (VN, Okinawa, Japan, Taiwan) I arrived back unexpectedly…a group of us was given the chance to catch a plane back heading back to McGuire AFB in NJ. When we got there the AF didn’t know what to do with a dozen Marines in their midst…so they drove us up Port Authority in NYC and told us us-none of us were above E4 so the AF must have assumed we couldn’t figure out what to do on our own-and told us to contact the Brooklyn Navy Yard at 0730….we had arrived at McGuire at 0130. At any rate we got to the Navy yard around 1000…they gave us the day to rest in some empty squad bay and then the next day the started to figure out what to do with us. They obviously had to contact headquarters CMC in DC. The whole process took around a week as I recall. I eventually ended up at Quantico, some guys got early outs, others just went elsewhere. In any event what to do with us for the week we were at Brooklyn; they certainly didn’t want us just laying around scratching ourselves. I ended up as a Chaser for the jail there…moving prisoners hither and yawn as necessary. I was qualified with the .45 so was issued one of those. I don’t recall having a rifle or shotgun. Nothing out of the ordinary except for one funny event. The Marine CO there used to love having Friday afternoon parades. The one Friday I was there myself and one other Marine took a dozen prisoners out to the parade field and had them dry mop the grass-it had rained in the morning-and the CO didn’t want his detachment Marines to get their shoes wet from the rain. So there we were for two hours, armed, while a dozen prisoners dry mopped grass ! I think, after some reflection, I realized I was probably not going to be a career Marine…..but I’ve never forgotten that event.

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