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.
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.
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.
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.