Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Sprovtsoff
September 28, 2011
Oceanside Marine Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Sprovtsoff passed up a job as a recruiter to become one of the service's elite troops, earning his way onto a special operations team two years ago as a bomb technician.
On Wednesday, the 28-year-old Michigan native was killed in an insurgent bombing in Afghanistan's Helmand province. His death came near the end of his fifth combat deployment, his third in Afghanistan.
"He was the most amazing man I have ever known," said his wife, Tasha, who is pregnant with the couple's second child. "I know that he died doing what he loved."
Sprovtsoff was supposed to return in a few days to his El Caballo Drive home, just outside Camp Pendleton's San Luis Rey gate in northeastern Oceanside.
That's where Tasha and his 14-month-old daughter, Lanie, were counting the days until Daddy was back.
"I'm due at the end of the month, and they were working really hard to get him here in time," Tasha said.
Instead, her husband, who had earned a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor in a previous deployment, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
His widow was flown to Delaware's Dover Air Force Base on Friday to meet the aircraft carrying her husband's remains.
She returned home over the weekend, surrounded by family members helping her prepare for his funeral.
The couple met in Hawaii in 2005. Tasha said she was at a lounge when he introduced himself and asked her to go with him to the annual Marine Corps Ball.
"I knew from the very first date that he had manners," she said. "He was a gentleman and took care of me like a lady, and unlike what most men do these days."
It would be two years before they would marry.
"He made me wait," she said, laughing. "We went to the courthouse in Hawaii between deployments, and then later had another ceremony with my family in Washington (state) when he got home."
This was Sprovtsoff's first war-zone assignment as a bomb technician. Precise details of how he was killed were not immediately available.
He decided to pursue special operations forces rather than a safer assignment the Marine Corps had planned for him, Tasha said.
"We talked about it, and knew the risks," she said. "But he didn't want to sit at a desk and be outside of the action."
Sprovtsoff ---- who loved fast cars, motorcycles and singing ---- shielded his wife from the darker side of his work, she said. For example, she said she isn't entirely certain how he earned the Bronze Star.
"Nick wanted to protect me from worrying," she said. "He brought me a great sense of calm, and didn't like to tell me about all the things he had done."
Tasha said she will forever be proud of her husband and won't regret the decisions they made.
"Somehow we had an advantage, knowing that this could happen, because it let us enjoy every second we had together. We shared a lot of happiness in our six years together."
Sprovtsoff joined the Marine Corps in 2001, shortly after graduating from high school in Davison, a small suburb of Flint, Mich.
In 2002, he became an amphibious assault crewman and spent six years in that assignment before attending explosives school.
He completed that work in 2009, the same year he joined the 4-year-old Special Operations Command and underwent special training in reconnaissance missions.
He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton.
In addition to his Bronze Star, he had been awarded an Army Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons and two Good Conduct medals.
So far this year, 354 U.S. troops have been killed in the war in Afghanistan, according to the website www.icasualties.org, which tracks all troop fatalities.
Most ---- 206 ---- have lost their lives to roadside bombs, the homemade explosives used by the Taliban to wreak havoc on U.S. and NATO coalition troops.
Since the war began after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, 1,800 U.S service members have been killed.