Sailor Killed In Iraq Was Weeks Away From Coming Home

KENT, Ohio (AP) - A sailor who was scheduled to return home to northeast Ohio by the end of the month was killed in Iraq, his family said Saturday.

Luke Emch, 21, a Navy corpsman assigned to the Marines, was killed Thursday by an explosive device near Ramadi, said his father, Wesley Emch of Brimfield Township.

Navy officials didn't provide further details, the family said. Emch, a 2004 graduate of Tallmadge High School, was scheduled to wrap up his tour of duty Saturday and, after a few weeks of debriefings, return home by the end of March, the family said.

"We worried about him constantly," his father said. Emch attended the University of Akron for a year before deciding to join the Navy in 2006, against his father's wishes.

"We argued over it long and hard," Wesley Emch said. "I was adamant about him not joining and he just sat there and said, 'Dad, there are 19-year-old kids joining the military because they can't afford college, and they're getting shot up.'

"He said he felt a responsibility. He said he wanted to be the one to take care of them. He couldn't stand the idea that he had something they didn't." Wesley Emch, a science teacher at Cuyahoga Falls High School, said his son played tennis in high school and loved to watch football.

"He was a wonderful person. He was extremely smart and had a great sense of humor," said his mother, Julie Emch, a middle school teacher in the Tallmadge school district.

Emch also is survived by a sister, Samantha, 23.