John Wemlinger - The Road to Empire

A young officer rises through the ranks until he must choose career or family. Wemlinger is masterful at leading you through it all. —US Army Colonel Tom Johnson (Retired)


Unable to forget the horrors of 9/11 or the Iraq war that killed his friends, aviation science student Jack Rigley enrolls in Western Michigan University’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. As Jack’s college graduation nears, he and his fiancée, Annie Miller, find themselves headed to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he will learn to fly helicopters. This career move, however, does not sit well with Danny Miller, Annie’s father, whose older brother was killed in Vietnam flying helicopters.

In spite of his objections, Jack and Annie choose the military and face the trials of military life: family separations caused by long deployments to dangerous combat zones, relocations to meet the needs of the service, deaths of loved ones, and the tug of heartstrings firmly rooted where each grew up, in Empire, Michigan. Ultimately, Jack will be forced to make a difficult choice: family or career, the very same choice America’s truest heroes must make every day while serving our country.

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