That Girl’s Blog: The Rumble of Big Nick’s Ride For The Fallen

I want you to imagine you are sitting in the back seat of a limousine. It’s dark interior matching your dark formal clothing. You sit in silence without making eye contact with your own family riding with you. Your closest family members are all with you except one. That one family member is riding in a special vehicle in front of this limousine in a flag draped coffin. Your entire world came to the shattering halt at the news your loved one lost his life.

On July 23, 2009, Nicholas Xiarhos lost his life in Garmsir, Afghanistan. Nicholas was just 21 years old. Nicholas was killed on a Thursday. Nicholas came home for the last time on a Wednesday. He was flown into Barnstable Municipal Airport where a hearse and a motorcade was waiting to bring him to Hallett Funeral Home in Yarmouth.

Nicholas’ family barely noticed that virtually all of Cape Cod had taken the time to stand at attention and show their respect for the fallen Marine. The grief swallows you up into a dark and quiet place. No matter how many people you pass, you feel completely isolated.

As the limousine and hearse and police cruises made their way through the streets of the Cape, there was one low rumbling sound that seemed to slowly ride through the silence. It wasn’t a familiar sound, but as the rumbles grew louder, the Xiarhos family began to realize they were not alone.

The rumbling sound was coming from a group of motorcycles… A group of Patriot Guard Riders who, with their flags, were escorting the grieving family along their solemn route.

This same group of riders had members standing at attention in a long flag line at the funeral home and again at the cemetery. These men and women motorcyclist are veterans and patriots who volunteer their time and resources to demonstrate to families that their loss is not going unnoticed and is not in vain.

I have heard Nicholas’ father tell this story more than once and how the sound of motorcycles became a comfort in his time of sorrow.

On July 23, 2017, on the 8th anniversary of the death of Cpl Nicholas Xiarhos, I will have the honor be part of the longest motorcycle escort on Cape Cod. In just under 2 weeks, upwards of one thousand motorcycles will gather at the Barnstable County Sherriff’s complex, which is directly across from the Bourne National Cemetery. There will be prayers and songs and words of inspiration. And there will be the rumble of thunder as bikes respectfully make their way through Bourne, along the Cape Cod Canal into Sandwich the along Rte 6A on their way to Dennis-Yarmouth where Nicholas played football, made friends and graduated.

We remember the 14 fallen heroes from Cape Cod.

Beyond remembering our lost loved ones, we show our support and respect for their families and the military members who still serve and especially our veterans.

I am always humbled by the community support on the day of Big Nick’s Ride. From the time the motorcycles pull out onto MacArthur Boulevard, all along the canal, along Rte 6A and past the Xiarhos family home to the school there are flags… There are handmade signs… There are people of all ages waving and cheering and throwing kisses… And there are tears. I have seen Vietnam era veterans wiping their eyes as they pass by cheering families on the side of the route. I have seen active duty soldiers steady themselves with deep breaths as the ride through our towns and villages. I have seen Gold Star families taking comfort in the realization they are not alone.

On Sunday July 23rd, I would like to ask you all… Motorcyclists and non-riders alike, to please take a little time out of your day to remember our lost loved ones, our heroes, our fallen soldiers. If you do not ride, please come show your support for the rumble of motorcycles that give comfort to the inconsolable. Wave your flags and remind our military members and their families that we will never forget the sacrifice they have made.

I will ride alongside Gold Star Father Deputy Chief Steven Xiarhos and one-thousand military members and veterans and patriotic civilians in Big Nick’s Ride for the Cape Cod Fallen to support the families of the Cape Cod Fallen:

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

​​United States Marine Corporal Nicholas G. Xiarhos of Yarmouth.

For more details about the ride and the route, please click HERE

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is “That Girl” on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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