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Nicholas Xiarhos’s father urges lawmakers to name bridge for Marine killed in Afghanistan

Steven Xiarhos, deputy police chief in the town of Yarmouth, recalled Monday the moment he learned that his son, Nick, 21, was dead, the victim of an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, where he was serving in the US Marine Corps.

It was a Thursday in July 2009, Xiarhos said, and he received a phone call urging him to return to headquarters. “I knew it had something to do with Nick,’’ he told a dozen lawmakers on the Committee on Transportation at a hearing in the capitol.

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“When I arrived at the station and saw my fellow officers waiting, I knew it was bad,’’ he said. When he saw two Marines approaching him, he said, he knew Nick had died.

“All of our worst nightmares had come true,’’ said Xiarhos, accompanied at the State House Monday by his wife, Lisa.

Xiarhos called on the Legislature’s transportation committee to get behind a bill that would rename a Route 28 span connecting Yarmouth and Dennis after his son, Nicholas. Bridge-naming bills are typically advanced with little public scrutiny or debate, and they often encounter little resistance. The Yarmouth proposal is sponsored by state Representative Demetrius Atsalis, Democrat of Barnstable, vice chairman of the committee.

An emotional Representative George Ross, Republican of Attleboro, who has previously advocated renaming a bridge connecting Attleboro and Pawtucket, R.I., after a couple killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - urged his colleagues to back the proposal, which also won accolades from state Senator Michael Rush, Democrat of West Roxbury, a veteran of the war in Iraq and a committee member.

After a parade of military and veterans’ service officials expressed support for the bill, Atsalis also pressed fellow lawmakers to pass it. “There’s so much wrong in this world today, this young man, at this young age, went out to make things right,’’ he said.

The bill would rename the Bass River Bridge the “United States Marine Corporal Nicholas G. Xiarhos Memorial Bridge.’’

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