Monday, March 05, 2007

Lucas W.A. Emch dies of injuries from I.E.D.

BRIMFIELD -- About two years ago, township resident Luke Emch was watching the news and saw a 19-year-old soldier who said he joined the military to earn money to pay for college.

"Luke felt guilty. Those men were getting shot up and killed," said Emch's father, Wesley. "He wanted to help them, so he said the best way to help was to become a corpsman."

Emch, who turned 21 on Feb. 8, was killed in a bomb blast Thursday in Iraq, just two days before he was set to move out of the combat zone, his father said.

"He felt compelled to help those kids stay alive," Wesley Emch said. "He loved his country. The first thing he did when he turned 18 was to register to vote."

Emch was assigned to the First Marine Division Ordinance Disposal in Camp Ramadi, Iraq and was on patrol with the Marines in Anbar Province when he was killed.

Wesley Emch said he was told about his son's death while at work at Cuyahoga Falls High School, where he is a science teacher.

"They came to my school and told me. We went over and told (his mother) Julia," he said.

Julia Emch teaches seventh-grade math and science at Tallmadge Middle School.

Emch is the fourth serviceman with ties to Portage County to die in the Iraq War.

Emch had spent a year studying political science at the University of Akron and then joined the Navy two years ago and became a medic. He was sent to Iraq on Aug. 23.

He graduated from Tallmadge High School in 2004, where he played varsity tennis, earned a letter his junior year and was a member of the varsity letterman club. He left Field schools when he was a sophomore. Julia Emch, said he loved football and baseball, and played in baseball leagues in Brimfield when he was younger.

In addition to athletics, his mother said he was good with people.

"He had a big heart," she said. "He was very generous and he treated all people equally, he had no prejudices whatever."

Julia Emch said her son had to have his official Navy portrait taken three times because he kept smiling.

His parents also said he enjoyed movies, history and politics.

"He was bright and intuitive," said his father.

"He was a good problem solver," said his mother.

Luke's sister, Samantha, 23, attends veterinary School at Ross University in St. Kitts in the Caribbean. She was expected to arrive in Portage County Saturday.

From the Courier