Friday, March 02, 2007

Navy Hospitalman Lucas 'Luke' W.A. Emch

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Hospitalman Lucas W.A. Emch, 21, of Kent, Ohio

Hospitalman Emch was assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died March 2, 2007, when an improvised explosive device detonated in his vicinity while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Family comforted by son's patriotism
Brimfield's Luke Emch was on active duty in Iraq because of desire to serve his country
By Colette M. Jenkins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Wesley and Julia Emch's worst fear became reality Friday, when they learned that their 21-year-old son, Luke, had been killed in Iraq.

``When he told me he was re-enlisting for active duty, we argued for hours because he didn't need to go to war,'' Wesley Emch said.

``Finally, he looked at me and said, `There are 19-year-olds joining the military because they need money to pay for college. I'm not in that situation but I feel guilty. I should serve my country, too.'

``When he said that, there was nothing else for me to say. He wanted to serve his country so badly. He loved the United States and he loved being in the Marines.''

Wesley Emch received the news of his son's death on Friday at Cuyahoga Falls High School, where he teaches biology and genetics. The Navy representatives then drove him to Tallmadge Middle School, where his wife teaches seventh-grade science and math.

Emch said military personnel had gone to their Sandy Lake Road home in Brimfield Township before finding out he was teaching at the high school.

``We were in disbelief, wondering if they were sure about what they were telling us. When the realization that it was true set in, there were feelings of helplessness and grief,'' Wesley Emch said. ``We're struggling to deal with this -- the futility of our loss.''

Luke Emch, a 2004 Tallmadge High School graduate, spent a year in the reserve. Last year, he enlisted for active duty.

A Navy corpsman assigned to the Marines, he was deployed in August for his first tour in Iraq with the 1st Marines Explosive Ordnance Disposal company at Camp Ramadi, a U.S. military base on the outskirts of the city of Ramadi, which has been described as one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq.

``He told us he was working in the battalion-aid station and that he was not going out on patrol,'' Wesley Emch said. ``He obviously didn't want us worrying about him.

``He was supposed to be leaving Iraq today. He just turned 21 on Feb. 8 and the last time we talked I told him I was going to buy him his first beer when he got home. He sort of said with a wink, `Yeah, because we certainly aren't drinking any beer over here.' ''

Ian Psouts, 21, had a similar conversation with Luke about two weeks ago. The two friends met as classmates at the University of Akron, where Luke was a student for a year before going to boot camp.

``He told me he would be coming home soon and we were making plans to go to the bar and just hang out,'' said Psouts, of Green. ``He was a very loyal friend. I could trust him with anything.''

Psouts said when he first heard of his friend's death, he was hoping it wasn't true.

``It didn't really hit me until I talked to Mr. Emch,'' said Psouts, crying. ``I was so afraid for (Luke) when he said he was going into the service, but I respected his decision because he said it was something he felt he had to do. Nothing good ever happens in war.''

Psouts said everyone who knew Luke is devastated.

Another of Luke's friends, Allison Klusmann, 21, said she will miss his sense of humor and compassion. Klusmann and Luke had been friends since high school.

``He was always there for me. If I needed to talk, I knew Luke would be there. I'm going to miss him dearly. He was probably one of the funniest people I've ever known,'' Klusmann said. ``I could talk to him for hours about anything. He was just very giving.''

Luke had plans to finish his college education, majoring in political science. He wanted to be a lobbyist.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by a sister, Samantha, 24, who is a student at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in New Jersey.

``I just want people to understand that Luke did what he didn't have to do. He was proud of what he was doing to serve his country,'' Wesley Emch said. ``He didn't think we should be at war but he had a sense of what was right. And he thought it was right to serve his country.''

Navy Hospitalman Lucas W.A. Emch was killed in action on 03/02/07.

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