PORTAGE | Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Litzkow's family and friends gathered at Portage American Legion Post 260 on Sunday to celebrate.
Litzkow, of South Haven, returned Jan. 18 from his third tour in Iraq, and his friends at the Portage Fire Department, where he is a member, welcomed him home with a party.
The department also made sure he had a comfortable ride home from the airport, so his wife, Tammy, met the Army Reservist in a limousine.
"We didn't do much the last two times he was home, so we wanted to do something more for him this time," Fire Chief Tom Fieffer said. "He really deserves it."
Litzkow, who has 29 years in the Army Reserves, shook hands and hugged his friends as they walked into the Legion hall Sunday.
"I've known Chuck for 16 years," said Keith Elliott, of Portage. "I look forward to being with him."
"It's good to be home," said Litzkow, dressed in his digital camouflage fatigues. "Reacclimation is the hardest part. Some faces and names have changed since I've been gone."
During his three deployments, Litzkow worked with the Kingsbury, Ind.-based 542nd Transportation Company, the Battle Creek, Mich.-based 401st Transportation Unit and the Indianapolis-based 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
"With the 310th ESC, we oversaw the drawdown in Iraq," said Litzkow, who also works for the Ogden Dunes water department. "We made sure they had enough fuel and food to sustain themselves during the drawdown."
Tammy Litzkow said it is "wonderful" to have her husband home.
"He's cooking a lot of meals," she said. "I've gained five pounds since he's been home."
Chuck Litzkow's in-laws, Richard and Sylvia Strauss, of Three Oaks, Mich., have spent a few days with the family since he has been home.
"I don't know that I could have done what he did," Richard Strauss said.
Litzkow also has enjoyed spending time with his son, Connor, 15, and stepdaughter, Amanda, 18.
"I was able to keep in touch better this time around with Facebook," he said. "But it was hard to see pictures from the fireman's ball. I missed that. I thought, 'I should be there.'"