Sunday, July 23, was a special Memorial Day on Cape Cod. More than 1,000 motorcyclists joined Big Nick’s Ride for the Fallen and rode from Bourne to Yarmouth to honor Cape Codders who have died serving our country since 9/11. Thousands more lined the 35-mile route to show their support for our local heroes. The event raised $60,453 for local military families and veterans.
The ride, now in its 8th year, is sponsored by the Nicholas G. Xiarhos Memorial Foundation Fund of The Cape Cod Foundation. It was started to honor U.S. Marine Nicholas Xiarhos who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 while going to the rescue of his fellow Marines in combat. Coincidentally, this year’s ride fell on the anniversary of the young Corporal’s death. Thirteen other local veterans who died in military service since the September 11 attacks in 2001 were also among those honored this year.
United States Army Staff Sergeant Alicia A. Birchett of Mashpee
United States Army Private First Class Paul E. Conlon of Mashpee
United States Navy Captain Gerald F. DeConto of Sandwich
United States Army Sergeant Alexander H. Fuller of Barnstable
United States Army Sergeant Matthew R. Gallagher of Falmouth
United States Navy SEAL Kevin A. Houston of Barnstable
United States Marine Captain Eric A. Jones of Mashpee
United States Marine Private First Class Daniel A.C. McGuire of Mashpee
United States Army Sergeant Matthew A. Pucino of Bourne
United States Army Private First Class Clinton E. Springer II of Bourne
United States Army Sergeant Zachary D. Tellier of Falmouth
United States Army Sergeant Mark R. Vecchione of Eastham
Commander Francis T. Williams of Sandwich
The memorial fund provides financial assistance to local military families and wounded warriors and supports numerous programs for veterans throughout the community including, Cape Wags for Tags, a free pet adoption service, Operation Reel Heroes, a saltwater fishing event, and therapeutic horseback riding. The fund also supports a scholarship at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Nick’s alma-mater.
Stephen Xiarhos, Nick’s father, said, “We hope that we can help all Gold Star and military families honor their fallen. We also want to thank and help the living, those brave Vets that made it home. That’s what their fallen fellow warriors would want.”