Nicholas Xiarhos was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts; first child of Steven and Lisa and eventual big brother for Alex and twin sisters Elizabeth and Ashlynne. In 2005 he completed the Massachusetts State Police Junior Trooper Academy and a year later graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School where he was selected as a Student Ambassador and played varsity football and baseball. His family, friends, teachers, and coaches remember him as a kind-hearted, selfless person who went out of his way to help others. He was affectionately nicknamed “The Mayor of D-Y” due to his outgoing personality, popularity, and ability to get along with everyone. In his senior year, his classmates presented him with the special “Does Most for Others Award.”
Nick Raised His Hand
In 2019, ten years passed since this American hero last raised his hand. Raising his hand for service was what set Nicholas Xiarhos apart from his peers. Nick had an enduring passion about serving our great country and he dreamed about someday becoming a United States Marine – a dream that became even more important after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when he was just 13 years old.
In dramatic fashion, Nick raised his hand to enlist into the Marine Corps during a performance of the Marine Corps Battle Color Ceremony on Cape Cod in the summer of 2006. Nine days later he reported to Parris Island and would later become an Infantry Assaultman. When asked by his father if he should change his Military Occupational Specialty to something less dangerous, Nick said, “Dad, I want to be a Marine and I want to fight for our freedom and want to someday tell my grandchildren that, in a time of war, I did what my President asked me to do.”
Nick’s first deployment was to Iraq in 2008 as a member of the re-activated 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. On April 22 at 7:30 AM, the lives of Nicholas and 49 other Marines and another 100 Iraqi police officers were saved when Corporal Jonathan T. Yale of 2/8 and Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter of 1/9 stood in the path of a suicide truck bomb loaded with over 2,000 pounds of explosives as it barreled toward the Marine outpost in Ramadi. The two Marines stopped the driver but they themselves were killed when the truck exploded. Their actions prevented the truck from entering the compound and killing the group of Marines who will be forever remembered in Marine Corps lore as “The Fortunate Fifty.” In February 2009, Nicholas and his family traveled to a special ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico where Jonathan and Jordan were recognized with posthumous Navy Crosses presented by the Secretary of the Navy.
Later that same month, Nick met and shook the hand of President Obama at Camp Lejeune after he gave a speech outlining the plans to end Operation Iraqi Freedom and the upcoming surge in Afghanistan. Nick was inspired. When he learned that a fellow Marine and former high school classmate was deploying, he raised his hand to leave “The Walking Dead” and join 2/8 to honor the battalions of Jonathan and Jordan. He received notice that he had been allowed to join 2/8 only five days before it deployed for war and had no time to come home for a visit.
On July 23, 2009, the now meritoriously promoted Corporal Xiarhos was the vehicle commander of a heavily armored HMMWV that was conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. As the mission was nearing its end, Nicholas heard a fellow Marine calling for help on the radio because his vehicle was stuck in the sand in enemy territory. He and his team raised their hands to go and get him. As they headed out, their HMMWV drove over a large roadside bomb. The explosion was massive. Only two of the men survived the blast. The driver, Lance Corporal Jeremy Lasher, was tragically killed. Nick was severely wounded with massive internal injuries but he courageously fought for his life for over three hours before succumbing to his wounds.
When he last spoke with his family two weeks before his death, he said, "Don’t worry about me mom…I’m living the dream.” The words “Living the Dream” are etched on his gravestone at the Bourne National Cemetery in Massachusetts.
by Steven G Xiarhos, Gold Star Father
Tributes to Corporal Nick Xiarhos
Two American Heroes and the Fortunate 50