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Photo Information

Captain Timothy R. Sparks, former company commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, stands at the position of attention while his citation is read after receiving a Silver Star from Brig. Gen. W. Lee. Miller Jr., the acting commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune N.C., September 28. The Silver Star is the nation’s third highest award for combat valor and was presented to Sparks for his actions during his deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010.

Photo by By Cpl. Johnny Merkley

Answering the call of duty

28 Sep 2011 | Cpl. Johnny Merkley

While the U.S. Marines are known for performing at high levels in combat environments, a select few among them go far above and beyond the call of duty.

For Marines like Capt. Timothy R. Sparks, former company commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, going above and beyond earned him the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for combat valor during his deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010.

“This is a pretty incredible experience. I was dumbfounded when I found out they were putting me in for an award of this stature,” said Sparks. “This award was earned together as a team between myself and my Marines. I feel like they awarded the commander for the entire company’s actions.”

Sparks received his award from Brig. Gen. W. L. Miller Jr., the acting commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune N.C., September 28, in front of family members, friends and fellow Marines who showed their support.

“Many of these guys I haven’t seen in years,” said Sparks. “Some of these Marines I served with in the battle of Fallujah in 2004, others are Marines I served with in Afghanistan; this is just an overwhelming experience.”

Although Sparks courageously directed his company during a heated fire fight against a Taliban stronghold, he still accredited the victory and his award to his men, who bravely fought beside him.

“We were fighting the enemy for three straight days,” said Sparks. “Because of the bravery the Marines showed throughout the battle, we established a position so the rest of the battalion could move in.”

While Sparks and his Marines are proud of this award, they can’t help but remember the day it was earned and how bravely the company fought and stood together.

“That was probably the worst day of my life – you rely on great leaders like Capt. Sparks to help you get through the day,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Irons, former platoon sergeant, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “He’s an incredible leader and definitely deserves this award. Every day he inspired us all to get the job done and worked hard to get us all home safely.”

As the ceremony came to a close, members of the crowd came up to congratulate Sparks for his accomplishments. Beside him stood his wife who also shares pride for her husband and his actions during.

“I am incredibly proud of him and his Marines for all of the hard work and sacrifice that went in to receiving this award,” said Beth Sparks. “I’m thankful my husband was in a position to lead his Marines, this is a day I will never forget.”