Massachusetts State Representative Steven Xiarchos, a Gold Star father whose son was killed in Afghanistan, had some harsh words to say to United States President Biden after the lightning-fast takeover of the country last week.
Xiarchos, who had served as a state trooper for decades, and whose roots are in the town of Mani in Peloponnese, spoke to Greek Reporter some years ago about the untimely death of his son Nicholas, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009.
Since then his family have had their lives drastically altered — but they have always stayed strong so that they could tell Nick’s story.
A bomb hit the tank that was carrying Nick and his fellow US Marines near the town of Gasmir, Afghanistan twelve years ago.
“Here I am; send me”
Nick, a gentle giant with a pure heart, died on July 23rd, 2009, together with two other soldiers.
As his proud father puts it, “Nick is my hero; we have to remember them and tell their story.”
Asked by Greek Reporter today, after the Taliban retook the country in a blitzkrieg-like campaign last week, Xiarchos, who is now a representative in the Massachusetts State Legislature, has harsh words for our nation’s leadership.
“President Biden and his team have shown a shameful lack of leadership and planning,” he stated, adding “We are heartbroken to see what has happened.
“The Afghanistan forces have fought bravely for many years and suffered thousands and thousands of casualties.
“My son Nicholas would be proud that Americans volunteered to fight back after the Attack on America on 9/11/2001 and gave the people of Afghanistan — especially the women and children — a taste of freedom for 20 years,” Xiarchos stated.
“My son and many others worked hard for freedom in Afghanistan. They sacrificed, they fought, and in the case of many, they died — all in the name of extending the God-given gift of freedom to others.
“They did their job proudly and bravely, for love of country and their mission, and for each other. They are heroes, every single one. They answered their nation’s call, stood tall and said: “HERE I AM, SEND ME.”
“We will always remember them and their sacrifice; and regardless of the headlines, we honor their memory and their struggle.
Xiarchos concludes by giving a message to all the other parents out there who lost sons in that war-torn country, saying “To my fellow Gold Star Families and Veterans from Afghanistan, my heart, my love, my prayers, and my pride are with you all. God bless America.”
Gold Star father Xiarhos’ four decades of service
In his previous interview with Greek Reporter, before he was elected to the State Assembly, Xiarchos shared that he had a mission to fulfill. “Since Nick died, I have run two Marathons, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC and the one in Boston. My goal now is to go to Athens and run the Marathon where it all started. I want to do that in Nick’s memory and carry my flags…and return home.”
In the last elections, Xiarhos, a Republican, edged Democrat James Dever by 1,167 votes in the run for the 5th District of the Massachusetts State Legislature, representing Barnstable and Plymouth.
A grandson of Greek immigrants, Xiarhos spent 40 years as a Yarmouth police officer, including time as the police chief.
During those four decades of service, Xiarchos was promoted to the ranks of Detective, Patrol Force Commander, Detective Division Commander, and eventually Deputy Chief of Police. He retired from the police department on December 8, 2019 when he decided to run for state office.
Fighting erupts at Kabul Airport
As Xiarchos made his remarks on Monday, it emerged that there had been fighting involving US and German troops at the airport in Kabul.
Afghan guards exchanged fire with unidentified gunmen, according to officials from the German military, adding to the chaos of the ongoing evacuation as Washington faces pressure to extend its self-imposed August 31 deadline to withdraw from the country.
Thousands of Afghans and foreigner nationals have thronged the airport for a week now, hoping to get on any flight out of Afghanistan after Taliban fighters retook Kabul on Aug. 15.
So far, a total of twenty people have been killed in various melees at the airport, most in shootings and stampedes in the heat and dust; others as a result of hanging on to the wheel wells of a US aircraft as it took off from the airport. Three Afghans were killed as a result of falling from the C-17 cargo craft in that incident.
U.S. and international forces continue to attempt to evacuate their citizens and vulnerable Afghans, many of whom worked for the foreign forces. One person was killed in Monday’s clash, the German military officers stated.
A CNN reporter on the scene said that a sniper outside the airport had fired at Afghan guards, 600 of whom are former government soldiers, helping the US forces at the airport, near its north gate.
Three wounded Afghan guards are being treated at a field hospital in the airport. At present, two NATO officials who are at the airport told reporters that the situation is now under control.