I learned about Alex Douglass from an email that his girlfriend Jackie sent to Thin Blue Line USA. After reading her heartfelt message and looking at pictures of Alex holding the Thin Blue Line flag, I knew I wanted to meet him. I began to understand his dedication to the blue line family and about his motivations. The conversations with the both of them flowed so freely as they moved me to tears and I knew I had a story about one man’s triumphs over tribulations. I knew I had met an American hero willing to risk his life for others.
After high school, Alex attended the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania from 2001-2005 and studied finance and economics. He graduated on a Friday and went into the state police academy on Sunday. Alex decided to become a Pennsylvania State Trooper because the Pennsylvania State Police is a paramilitary organization where military courtesy and discipline are practiced from the first day a cadet enters the academy. Alex liked the idea that it was the closest alternative to joining the military. He knew he wanted to help people and serve the citizens of Pennsylvania. His hopes were even bigger than that. He wanted to serve the people of his country. Alex has served as a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper for the past 11-years and on September 12, 2014, was wounded in the line of duty.
On that night in September, everything changed for Alex. A late night ambush attack occurred at the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, where Alex worked. An individual opened fire at the State Troopers with a sniper rifle as they were entering and exiting the front of the building. Alex was critically wounded and still attempted to help Fellow Trooper Cpl. Bryon Dickson II inside the building. Trooper Dickson, 38, married and father of 2, died from two gunshot wounds to the torso, including one shot that pierced his bulletproof vest.
Alex had to be rushed to the hospital by helicopter where he underwent emergency surgery and was in a medically induced coma for a week. In the 30 days after the shooting, he had to undergo 11 surgeries. While Alex was fighting for his life, his perpetrator, Eric Frein was leading more than 1,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officers on a seven-week chase through the Pocono Mountains. Frein was finally arrested on October 30, 2014, where he was found in an abandoned airplane hangar only 30 miles from the barracks. Frein was convicted in 2017 and is on death row for his crimes.
Alex has undergone 19 major surgeries to this date. He suffered from substantial nerve and soft tissue damage along with a condition called “drop foot” in his right leg and foot. On December 12, 2018, he underwent a surgery that involved below the knee amputation of his right leg. I am happy to report Alex’s recovery is going very well. After he gets the stitches removed he will be fitted into a cast. This prosthetic will be custom designed and built to fit his body.
In spite of all the obstacles he’s had to overcome from this tragedy, Alex does not let it stop him from living a full life. He competes at all skill levels as an adaptive athlete. He is very active in the Crossfit community and a member of Oscar Mike and Operation Enduring Warriors. Both groups are nonprofit organizations that provide honor and empowerment for wounded veterans and law enforcement officers through fitness. Alex is also a member of Task Force Sentinel, a group that works hand in hand with Operation Enduring Warriors and represents wounded law enforcement individuals. Additionally, public speaking has become Alex’ inspiration because it serves as a platform for him to reach out and help others. For Alex, public speaking has become his private counselor. It allows him the opportunity to talk about everything that he has been through.
Alex has learned so much from this incident. He’s learned that people really care and that he’s truly thankful to be alive. He continues to pay it forward through his public speaking events to all different types of groups, with a goal in mind of offering hope, inspiration, and encouragement to people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD), disabilities, or any obstacles holding them back in life. He participates in about 6 different speaking engagements a year.
He met Earl Granville while participating in a New York City marathon in 2015. Earl Granville is a retired Army Staff Sgt., who lost part of his leg when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle in eastern Afghanistan in 2008. Alex and Earl are both adaptive athletes and quickly became brothers with a purpose. Together, they do a lot of public speaking engagements. According to Alex, every adaptive athlete has a different skill level based on their adaptation and disability. Alex believes you have to find the strength within to go out and do the impossible! During the marathon, Alex and Earl used the handcycle in the race. The handcycle is propelled by the arms rather than the legs.
Jackie, Alex’s girlfriend, and inspiration met at a local gym a few years ago. They were both going through similar struggles at the time and quickly became closest friends. Alex describes Jackie as being very supportive of everything he does and helps get him through the good and the bad times. Together they motivate each other to be better.
I wanted Alex to know that “No One Fights Alone,” and that we were supporting him on his journey through recovery. We sent him a care package filled with items he chose from our website. It was our way of thanking Alex for his service in his community and for his selfless act of heroism. I asked Alex if we could share his story because of its message of hope and one of strength. For 2019, let's hold on to the belief that Alex already knows to be true, and that is, people really do care.