BRIMFIELD TWP.: On a drive with his parents to Green Bay, Wis., to visit Lambeau Field, Luke Emch started telling stories of his childhood.
Emch was in Navy corpsman school at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois and had a day off when his parents came to see him.
As a family of Green Bay Packers fans, they decided to drive to see the field where their favorite team played.
One of the stories stuck in the head of his mother, Julie Emch.
It was a story of a day when Luke was a boy and took off in the woods behind their home in Brimfield Township with his dog that he named J’Amy and his science kit in his hands.
Luke Emch would finish Navy corpsman school and go on to serve with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit of Marines in Iraq. Navy corpsman are Navy medics who serve with Marines.
The 21-year-old Tallmadge High School graduate was killed by a roadside bomb at 10 a.m. on March 2, 2007, two hours before his replacement was to take over for him.
Last year, after his mother retired as a math teacher from Tallmadge Middle School, Julie Emch decided to write a children’s book about the story her only son told her on that glorious day in 2005.
She decided to call the story No Ordinary Bones.
The story Luke Emch told his parents that day was of how he and J’Amy found a spot deep in the woods and started digging, only to find what appeared to be bones.
“We laughed and laughed,” the 61-year old mother said, recalling her son’s incredible storytelling abilities, often done in different voices.
“We were laughing so hard.” she said.
Thinking about it now, she said, she wished she had recorded her son’s tales from that day.
“One of the stories was that he was out in the woods and he started digging up bones.”
Julie Emch said her son remembered that he was worried that he would get nightmares from the experience of finding the bones.
“But he said ‘I wanted it so bad, I did it anyway,’ ” she said.
The bones turned out to be bones of an opossum.
She said she decided after retiring that she would try her hand at writing a book for children.
First she wrote the storyline, then she illustrated the book using a computer program. She took a photograph of her woods and Photoshopped the photo to use in scenes from the woods.
The process of writing the book, she said, was therapeutic.
“At times it was kind of hard,” she said. “It would make me cry. At other times, it would make me laugh.” The first copy of the book, published through www.authorhouse.com, arrived this month at the Emches’ home.
All profits from the sale of the $19.95 book will go to the Luke Emch Memorial Fund and to the Semper Fi Fund to help wounded Marines. The book can also be purchased through Amazon.com.
Since her son’s death, nearly $15,000 has been given away in scholarships to Tallmadge High School students and to the Semper Fi Fund.
Emch was a University of Akron student who was opposed to the Iraq war when he saw stories on television about Marines being killed in combat.
He told his parents he felt he had to do something to keep Marines safe.
So he joined the Navy as a reservist and went to corpsman school.
A few months after he finished school and returned to Brimfield as a Navy reservist, he decided he wanted to go on active duty.
Emch was eventually sent to Iraq with an EOD unit.
In an author’s note in her book, Julie Emch wrote that her son “wanted to help keep the Marines who were fighting for our country safe.”
She added that “Luke was very good at taking care of his Marines and saved many lives … Luke was smart, funny, brave and compassionate. I miss him and hope that sharing this small part of his life will help his memory live on.” Julie Emch said she is now planning a second book about her son’s childhood using Luke as the main character and may even write a third book.
Her book starts this way:
“One bright sunny day, Luke grabbed his science kit, called J’Amy and headed into the woods looking for adventure. Today is going to be one we will always remember.”
For more on the book, go to the Facebook page for the book No Ordinary Bones at https://www.facebook.com/NoOrdinaryBones. To contact Julie Emch, message her through the Facebook page.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.