Chuck Vander Luitgaren

Charles J. “Chuck” Vander Luitgaren. Passed away on November 9, 2019. Cherished husband of Margie Vander Luitgaren (nee Kuyper). Devoted father of Beth (Edward) Franczyk & Jamie Raymond. Proud grandfather of Olivia & Cora Franczyk. Beloved son of Marcella (nee Mickewicz) and the late Peter Vander Luitgaren. Loving brother of David (Donna) Vander Luitgaren, Jean (Norbert) Wleklinski and Lynn (late Raymond) Tuftedal.  Dear uncle and cousin to many.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at the Howard Smiley Johnson VFW Post #4895 1701 Haynes Street (Mosley Street), Clarksville TN at 11:30 am.

Visitation will be on Sunday, November 17, 2019 from 12 Noon until 4 pm at Maher Funeral Home, 17101 71st Ave. (1 block East of Harlem Ave. on 171st Street), Tinley Park, IL 60477. Burial will be held at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorials in Chuck’s memory may be made by clicking . 

Chuck grew up in Chicago – 109th & Wentworth in the Roseland Neighborhood. Later they moved to Burnham. He was very close to his Uncle John who lived close by.

     Married in 1972 to Margie. They built their home in Richton Park and were blessed with two daughters, Beth and Jamie. He worked as a police officer part time while working as a Draftsman for Com Ed. Ultimately he found a full time position in Corporate Security with Com Ed.
     Chuck was an avid fisherman and stumbled upon Kentucky Lake. He fished tournaments & made many local friends. They bought a piece of property and a mobile home that became their vacation getaway. As kids, we came to the Lake for summers & holidays. Lake life has always been our home away from the city. Chuck hunted throughout the area (Beth often hunted with him) & ultimately purchased his own hunting parcel not so far from the house.
     Neighbors from Richton Park often came down to visit. Bill Sassamon moved down & they hung out regularly; doing miscellaneous projects, construction, gardening, painting, hunting etc. Chuck & Bill were known to be a helping hand to all around & an influence (both positive and negative, lol) to many.
nicknamed Chuckles by his son in law Ed or ‘Chicago Chuck’ by his southern friends. Speaking his mind and being known for it, Chuck wasn’t always ‘liked’, but he was certainly ‘LOVED’. He was certainly generous to all that knew him.
     Our dad was also a ‘collector of everything’ . From challenge coins to hats & pins … to tools, motorcycles, movies, Vietnam memorabilia, and more. He enjoyed spending time with his granddaughters Olivia and Cora & teaching them how to fish. They rode the golf cart, drove the boat, operated the 4 wheeler and learned how to target shoot out at ‘the farm’.
     8 year Cancer Survivor, however the effects of the cancer treatments seemed to permanently scar him. His ultimate highlight was returning to Vietnam last May withJamie on the 50 year anniversary of the Battle of Hamburger Hill. Along with active duty military and other Vietnam Veterans, Chuck was able to climb The Hill again, this time holding the hands of both active duty US military and those once known as the enemy.
     Wednesday’s service was nothing short of amazing. We loved hearing how my dad touched so many different people & influenced the soldiers of past & present. The stories shared were simply priceless. I am in awe and immensely humbled. Chuck’s departure has truly left a small hole in many hearts.


“Ne Desit Virtus” – “Let Valor Not Fail”

Chuck was drafted during the Vietnam War, his Army career began in 1967 and he served with the Rakkasans in Vietnam from September of 1968 through July of 1969, achieving the rank of Sergeant. His awards include: Silver Star, Bronze Star with V Device, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Emblem, Meritorious Unit Emblem, Valorous Unit Emblem, RVN Civil Actions Honor Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Four Bronze Service Stars, RVN Campaign Ribbon w/device 1960, Combat Infantryman Badge, Sharpshooter Badge w/Rifle and Machine gun Bars, Marksman Badge w/Automatic Rifle Bar.

Chuck has served actively with the Association.  He has held offices in both the Lester Hammond (Illinois) and Torii Chapters (Life Member).  After many years of collecting names and addresses of the Vets he served with, he was able to help form the Weldon F. Honeycutt Hamburger Hill Chapter, where he is a Charter Member.  He has also worked extensively with the National Archives, compiling a list of names of Vietnam Era Rakkasan Vets to be added to our Pylon. He ia also a proud recipient of the DMOR.

Chuck works closely with the Rakkasans and with 3-187, the Battalion he served with in Vietnam. He has frequently volunteered time to speak to the Soldiers who are preparing to deploy.  Additionally, his hobby of woodworking has helped support the Brigade by building wooden Toriis and wooden Memorial Boxes (boxes for the bullet casings after the 21 gun salute) for the families of deceased Soldiers and was responsible for compiling the Rakkasan Association Life Plaques.

To listen to an interview with Chuck please click the link West Point Center or Hamburger Hill. 

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Condolence Messages

  1. Margie I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers for you and your family.

  2. Dear Jamie. My heart goes out to you and your family with the unexpected loss of your Dad.

  3. Saddened by his passing. Chuck was a devoted soldier and civilian. He was dedicated to community and the veterans of the 101st Airborne Division.


  4. Larry and Debbie Cox

    So sorry Margie for your loss we are hear if you need us.

  5. RIP Chuck. Had a great time at our 50th. Hamburger Hill Reunion. Couldn’t be-leave you went back to Hamburger Hill 937 for a visit. Proud to have known you.
    Condolences to your Family. They deserve the best. God Bless.

  6. Chuck was a brave soldier and a good friend. I’m proud to have served with him in Bravo, 3/187th in Vietnam. To Margie and all of Chuck’s family, my sincere condolences.
    See you at last call, Chuck.

  7. Margie and Family,
    Chuck was a great Rakkasan and he will
    be missed by all of his comrades.
    Gone, but in our hearts forever.
    Valor Did Prevail!!

  8. Rest in peace brother.

  9. so sorry for your loss Margie… Hate to see our brothers leaving us like that.

  10. Margie So Sorry for your loss.
    Chuck was a true American Hero!!

  11. Condolences to family and friends. RIP. Dan & Pat McHugh

  12. Margaret & Lee Sander

    dear Margie: Blessings and prayers to you and your family.

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