In a rare move, the Army will upgrade one of One of his two Bronze Stars with "V" medals earned by a Marine hero killed in Afghanistan will receive a rare upgrade to the Silver Star on Friday, nearly nine years after Army leaders nominated him for the prestigious award.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff's widow, Tasha, will receive her husband's Silver Star on Friday award Friday from Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, who heads Marine Special Operations Command, during a private ceremony to be held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she Tasha now lives there with their two children: daughter Lanie and son Nicholas Tank Sprovtsoff. Their son who was born six weeks after Sprovtsoff father was killed in action by an improvised explosive device in 2011.
Sprovtsoff, who last deployed as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion’s EOD section, was killed in an improvised explosive device blast in 2011. His Silver Star will be presented by Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the head of Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
Sprovtsoff He had already pulled tours in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Phantom Fury when he deployed to Afghanistan in November 2006 to train the army there Afghan National Army. As part of a Marine embedded training team, then-Sgt. Sprovtsoff Corps Embedded Training Team 5-1, the sergeant fell under the command of the Army’s 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment.
The team was attached to Combined Joint Task Force 101, which was commanded by an Army general. The Army recommended him for the Silver Star after a 48-hour firefight in July 2007.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff, an explosive ordnance technician who was killed in an IED blast during a 2011 MARSOC deployment, will have one of his Bronze Star with "V" awards posthumously upgraded to a Silver Star medal on Friday.
Photo Credit: Cpl. Joshua Murray/Marine Corps
When the team was hit hard by an enemy ambush, Sprovtsoff "with complete disregard for his own safety and in spite of wounds sustained in combat, effectively orchestrated his unit's defense," according to his citation. "His unwavering courage, selfless service, and situational awareness under fire were decisive in his unit's defeat of the enemy ambush."
Osterman told Marine Corps Times that the Marine Raiders are "proud and honored" to award the Silver Star to Sprovtsoff's family on behalf of the Army.
"Staff Sgt. Sprovtsoff's actions were truly and extraordinarily heroic, and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is proud and honored to posthumously award the Silver Star Medal to Staff Sgt. Sprovtsoff's family on behalf of the Department of the Army," Osterman told Marine Corps Times. "His courage, dedication and sacrifice inspire us on a daily basis to help others, to cherish our freedom, and to try to make a positive difference in the world," Osterman said. "Also, the individual sacrifices Staff Sgt. Sprovtsoff's family have made is extremely important for MARSOC to recognize. We will always be inspired by the actions of our fellow Raiders and we will strive to operate at a level that honors them and their family."
Bill Costello, a spokesman for the Army's awards and decorations branch, said Sprovtsoff was initially put up for a Bronze Star with "V," but the intermediate approving authority said he rated a Silver Star instead.
The convening authority concurred, Costello said, but due to an administrative error that occurred at some point in the battlefield processing of the award, Sprovtsoff still received the Bronze Star with "V" in error. The corrective process began after a routine inquiry was made to the Army's Human Resources Command.
"It is important to us that the proper award approved by the commander be received by the individual," Costello said. "It is more important to us that this Marine be rightly honored for the heroic actions he showed that day. We are glad to help make that happen."
A medal upgrade is rare in modern conflict. In fact, the Corps has not upgraded any Bronze Star with "V" or above for Marines or sailors serving in Marine units in the Global War on Terror, said Maj. Rob Dolan, spokesman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
Rules dictate that an award can be reconsidered for upgrade only when the original chain of command presents new and relevant material evidence that was not available at the time the original recommendation was considered. Early this year, however, the Pentagon ordered the services to conduct a sweeping review of valor medals awarded since the 9/11 terror attacks to determine whether service members were shortchanged. The order required that more than 1,000 medals be reviewed.
It is not clear whether Sprovtsoff's upgrade is a result of this review. Numerous social media posts by family members and friends at the time of his death said he was to receive the Silver Star for his actions in 2007, but instead received the Bronze Star with combat valor device due to "an administrative error." Family members did not respond to Marine Corps Times by press time.
Sprovtsoff married Tasha on Nov. 19, 2007, just four months after his heroic actions in Afghanistan. That same month, he returned to the training team in Afghanistan as a combat replacement.
The amphibious assault vehicle crewman made a lateral move into the explosive ordnance disposal field in 2009. After completing EOD school and the Basic Reconnaissance Course, Sprovtsoff returned to Afghanistan in late 2010 with MARSOC. as part of 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion’s EOD section.
He would earn a second Bronze Star with "V" on Sept. 20, 2011, when he. According to his citation, bravely led a team of Marines safely through a region filled with IEDs following after the team came under multi-directional fire from an enemy ambush, according to his citation.
Eight days later, the 28-year-old set out to remove an IED improvised explosive device from a nearby checkpoint manned by the Afghan Local P police in the Upper Gereshk Valley of Helmand province. The device exploded as Sprovtsoff started his inspection.
Chief Petty Officer Justin Wilson, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman on his third Afghanistan deployment, knew insurgents had likely littered the area with IEDs, yet he left the safety of his position and rushed to the severely wounded EOD tech. The chief was tending to the wounded Marine with the help of Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz when another IED detonated.
The blast wounded Wilson severely, and ultimately killed Sprovtsoff and Diaz. In November 2014, led to the death of the two Marines. Wilson later received the Navy Cross for his actions. In the same Nov. 25, 2014 ceremony, Sprovtsoff and Diaz were posthumously awarded their Bronze Stars with combat distinguishing devices.
Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the 17th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, presents an American flag to Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff's father, Jack, during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, Oct. 6, 2011. The 28-year-old Marine was killed in Afghanistan in an IED blast while deployed with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion. Also pictured, Sprovtsoff's wife, Tasha.
Photo Credit: Marine Corps
Sprovtsoff was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 6, 2011. His work over the course of the team's deployment resulted in the elimination of 40 explosive devices, officials said, and his story was featured in Oliver North's 2013 book, "American Heroes on the Homefront: The Hearts of Heroes."
Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the 17th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, presented the American flag to the Marine's family at the service. Sprovtsoff's son, Nicholas Tank, was born one month later, just a day before the Marine Corps' birthday.