Today is July 21st, and it would have been Shapoor Alexander “Alex” Ghane’s 30th birthday. Alex (aka “Champ”) was a member of the United States Navy SEAL Team 5 based out of Coronado, California; he died tragically during a training exercise in Mississippi. I had the privilege and honor of representing his family recently and getting to learn a lot about a true American hero. The case was not easy, but we were successful on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court as well as the United States Supreme Court. More information about what exactly happened to Alex and the appeals themselves can be read here and here. You can also read more about the “Political Question Doctrine” here.
Alex was a graduate of SEAL Class 256, was his unit’s “corpsman” and spoke Farsi fluently. (For those of you who don’t know what a corpsman does, see this link. Don’t feel bad if you don’t’ cause I didn’t either ‘til I got involved in this case.) He was also remembered by his teammates as being the class comedian; the guy that always had a smile on his face and something funny to say.
Needless to say, the guy was a hero. The kind of guy I always wanted to be when I was a little kid, and a guy who paid the ultimate price for the freedom so many of us take for granted every single day. It’s men and women in our armed forces like Alex that give us the privilege of living in a free country. While I know more than most just how raw the pain still is for his family; I also know that Alex died doing what he loved, for a country that he loved and died an American hero.
Happy Birthday Alex Ghane. HOOYAH!
One more thing I want to share. Below is a draft copy part of the closing argument I had prepared for this case. I think it summarizes (in my mind) who Alex was, what he stood for, and want to share it with you:
Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. I’ve had the privilege of spending a significant amount of time with the family and friends of Alex Ghane and was able to learn about the kind of man he was and the beliefs and ideals he lived by. What I learned was that Alex Ghane personified the “Ethos” of a United States Navy Seal, even before he ever wore the Trident. Below is the Navy Seal Ethos and the emphasized portions are the one’s that stood out the most to me when thinking about Alex and the kind of man he was:
UNITED STATES NAVY SEAL ETHOS
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend. Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.
Happy birthday, Alex Ghane.