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Fallen Marine’s valor award upgraded to Silver Star, in rare move by Army

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SSgt SprovtsoffMedal upgrades tend to be very rare in modern conflict, but in the case of a fallen hero named Nicholas Sprovtsoff — the military wanted to be sure he received the correct honor.

The Army will upgrade one of two Bronze Star with “V” medals earned by Sprovtsoff  — who was killed during an IED blast in 2011.

His widow, Tasha, whom he married in 2007 — just four months after his heroic action– will receive the award on his behalf, during a private ceremony Friday at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado.

The head of MARSOC, Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, will present the Silver Star to Tasha. Osterman said the Marine Raiders are “proud and honored” to award the Silver Star to Sprovtsoff’s family on behalf of the Army, the Marine Corps Times reported.

In November 2006, Sprovtsoff deployed to Afghanistan to train the army there, as part of a Marine embedded training team. Before that, he had already done tours in support of OIF and Phantom Fury.

The Army recommended the Silver Star be given to Sprovtsoff, after a 48- hour firefight  in the summer of 2007. 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.”

In 2009, Sprovtsoff made a lateral move into the EOD field. The former amphibious assault vehicle crewman became an explosive ordnance disposal technician. He returned to duty in 2010 with MARSOC. In September 2011, he earned a Bronze Star with “V” for leading Marines “through a region filled with IEDs following multi-directional fire from an enemy ambush”, according to his citation.

About a week later, he was injured while trying to remove an IED from a nearby checkpoint in the Upper Gereshk Valley of Helmand province. As other officers tended to him, another IED detonated — killing Sprovtsoff.

For his actions in 2007, 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 agreed, but due to an “administrative error that occurred at some point in the battlefield”, Sprovtsoff still received the Bronze Star with “V” in error, according to a spokesman for the Army’s awards and decorations branch.

“It is important to us that the proper award approved by the commander be received by the individual. 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,” said Bill Costello.

The Pentagon ordered a sweeping review of valor medals early this year to determine whether service members were “shortchanged”.

Sprovtsoff was buried at Arlington in October 2011. His son, Nicholas, was born one month later, a day before the Marine Corps’ birthday. His story was featured in Oliver North’s 2013 book, “American Heroes on the Homefront: The Hearts of Heroes.”

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