|From The Boston Globe boston.com
Town mourns Marine with a big heart
Yarmouth resident, 21, is killed in Afghanistan
By Nandini Jayakrishna, Globe Correspondent | July 25, 2009
They called Nicholas G. Xiarhos “the mayor of DY’’ - a playful nod to his outgoing personality and popularity at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.
“Everyone knew him. He couldn’t walk by without saying hello to someone or without giving them a hug or a handshake or a high-five,’’ Rebecca M. Barbo, one of Xiarhos’s closest friends, said yesterday. “Everyone wanted a piece of Nick. And he gave them that . . . a piece of his heart wherever he went.’’
Xiarhos, a 21-year-old Marine corporal from Yarmouth, was killed Thursday in a roadside bombing in the Garmsir District in Afghanistan, according to his family.
His father, Yarmouth police Lieutenant Steven Xiarhos, said the family is devastated. “I wish it was a mistake,’’ he said by phone yesterday.
At 6 feet tall, Nick Xiarhos was muscular and strong, but gentle at heart. After returning from service in Iraq in October, he changed battalions so he could be deployed to Afghanistan two months ago, his family said.
“He didn’t feel comfortable living an easy life,’’ his mother, Lisa, said. “He just wanted to fight.’’
When she spoke to him two weeks ago, instead of complaining about the heat or the stress of combat in Afghanistan, he told her he was living his dream, the mother said.
Earlier this week, she bought Frisbees, a football, squirt guns, and other “fun stuff’’ for her son and was planning to print family pictures to send to him.
She said she was trying not to break down. “He would make us be tough,’’ she said.
He hated attention drawn to the fact he was a Marine, she said, “because he said, ‘There are thousands of Marines, and I’m not any different than they are.’ ’’
As of yesterday morning, 677 US military personnel have died and 3,303 have been wounded in action in and around Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the Department of Defense website, www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf.
Xiarhos’s parents and younger siblings, a brother and twin sisters, were preparing yesterday to fly to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where they are scheduled to collect his body today.
They were expecting him home at Christmas. After finishing his service in Afghanistan, he had planned to go to college and become a police officer like his father, they said.
Paul Funk, Xiarhos’s high school football and baseball coach for four years, remembered him as a motivated, selfless player and person.
“I know he was a good Marine because he talked about [serving his country] from the day I met him,’’ Funk said. “I know he was doing something that he really believed in.’’
Today, Yarmouth police officers and friends will participate in a 30-mile bicycle ride starting in Dennis in memory of the six fallen troops, now including Xiarhos, who have connections to Cape Cod, Steven Xiarhos said.
They will also remember Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter of Sag Harbor, N.Y., and Corporal Jonathan T. Yale of Burkeville, Va., who sacrificed their lives to save those of 50 fellow Marines and Iraqi police officers during a suicide bomb attack in Ramadi, Iraq, last year. Xiarhos was among those saved.
Yesterday, Barbo, 21, who dated Xiarhos for a year after high school, reminisced about their times together, describing his patience and willingness to offer a helping hand to all.
She remembered their senior prom and their drives around the Cape blasting classic rock music, his favorite.
She said his peers voted to present him the “Does Most For Others’’ title their senior year.
“He could not have lived up to that title any more than he did the past 21 years,’’ Barbo said.
“You saw the name ‘Does Most for Others?’ Well, obviously, Nick Xiarhos. It was a no-brainer.’’
|From Cape Cid day wickedlocal.com
A Yarmouth father's pride
By Jen Ouellette
Posted Aug 21, 2008 @ 06:11 AM
When police lieutenant Steven Xiarhos is patrolling the streets of Yarmouth, he tries not to think about the patrol his 20-year-old son is conducting on the other side of the world.
Nicholas Xiarhos, along with many other men and women his age, were heavily influenced by the Sept. 11 attacks.
He was 13 when four planes were hijacked and used as weapons against U.S. citizens, but the impact was long-lasting – both to him and the country.
“Once he graduated from high school, he left 10 days later. There’s thousands of kids like him,” said Lt. Xiarhos. “There’s been training on Generation Y. He’s your classic, patriotic, ‘support our country’ kid and heavily influenced by 9/11. So when you read about [Generation Y] and how they were influenced by Sept 11, he’s one of them.”
The younger Xiarhos has been serving overseas in Iraq since March as an infantry assault man for the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment.
“His mission now is to live with and work with and train the Iraqi police,” said Lt. Xiarhos.
“It’s kind of like the community policing we do here. Community policing is to build relationships with the people you live with and work with and to solve problems,” Lt. Xiarhos said, adding that his son is not living on a base, but is living, eating and working alongside the Iraqi people.
Lance Cpl. Xiarhos is working in Ramadi, Iraq, which his dad said is a very tough area. It was the site where American journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered in 2002.
Despite the known danger, there was no stopping Nick Xiarhos from joining the Marines two years ago.
“He has talked about it since he was 14,” says his Dad. “The first day he became a [high school] senior there was a recruiter in my house, sitting at my kitchen table with Nicholas. It was almost like a movie,” Lt. Xiarhos said.
“On a daily basis I try not to specifically think about [how dangerous Nick’s mission is],” said Xiarhos. “The mission that they are in, with a city of 600,000 people, it’s very, very dangerous.
“I know from being a police officer, if you trust the wrong person you could be killed and I think there it must be 10 times more difficult because of the language barrier,” he said. “What concerns me the most are the suicide bombers.”
His concern about suicide became reality for another father of a Marine April 22.
Because of the action of Christian Haerter’s son Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and a fellow Marine Cpl. Jonathan Yale, Lt. Xiarhos’ son and 32 other Marines and dozens of Iraqi police and civilians are still alive.
“Jordan and Corporal Yale were standing post about 7:30 a.m. in front of a concrete barrier set up in a zigzag pattern [outside an Iraqi police station],” Christian Haerter told a group of Cape kids who have enlisted to serve after they graduate.
The two-dozen soon-to-be soldiers are called “poolees” and were on hand to help Lt. Xiarhos pack up 110 care packages for his Support Our Troops drive.
“A truck entered the driveway and began speeding toward them,” Haerter explained, adding that his son and Yale then opened fire on the intruder and the truck rolled to a stop.
“We’re not 100 percent sure, but they think there was what’s called a dead man’s switch on the man, which set off 2,000 pounds of explosives when he was killed,” said Haerter.
Haerter made the trip from his Sag Harbor, N.Y. home to meet Steven Xiarhos for the first time July 19.
“It was important for me to meet people who have a connection with Jordan in any way. [Lt. Xiarhos’ son] was there when Jordan was killed,” he said, adding he hopes to meet Nick Xiarhos someday.
Lt. Xiarhos said the day he met Haerter was a proud, but difficult day.
“I was very proud to meet him in person and to have him in Yarmouth and to thank him. I also thought it could be the opposite. It could be me that was visiting him and it could have been my son.”