"V" device

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}} Template:Use American English Template:Infobox military award A "V" device is a metal {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} capital letter "V" with serifs which, when worn on certain decorations awarded by the United States Armed Forces, distinguishes an award for heroism or valor in combat instead of for meritorious service or achievement.[1]

The decorations with which a "V" may be authorized differ among the military services, as well as the manner in which the "V" is worn and the name by which it is referred to. Until 2017, each service also used different criteria in determining whether a "V" could be authorized.Template:Refn[2]


The Department of Defense, Army, and Air Force refer to the "V" as the "V" Device.[3][4] The Coast Guard refers to it as the Valor Device,[5] while the Navy and Marine Corps refer to it as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V".[6] When referring to a medal that has been awarded with the "V" device, it is often referred to as having been awarded "with valor".


File:Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal ribbon with "V" device.svg
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ribbon of the Achievement Medal with "V" device denoting combat bravery; the "V" device ceased being awarded with Achievement Medals in late 2016.

On 22 December 1945, in War Department Circular 383, the United States Army decided to introduce the "V" device to distinguish the award of a Bronze Star Medal for acts of valor and heroism, rather than meritorious service.[7] Soldiers, including Army airmen, who were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in combat were now authorized to wear a bronze "V" on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal. Only one "V" was allowed to be worn on a ribbon. The Department of the Navy introduced the "V" as the "Combat Distinguishing Device", and on 15 February 1946, authorized the "V" device to be worn on the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal for services or acts performed in actual combat with the enemy; in February 1947, this was changed to acts or services involving direct participation in combat operations. Most World War II veterans who were entitled to the "V" probably did not know about or apply for the device, since large-scale separations from the services were taking place after the war ended. Stocks of the device also were not available for issue for at least a year after the issuance of the Army circular.[7]

To be worn on a decoration, the "V" device must have been specifically authorized in the written award citation issued with the medal. In 1996, the "V" device garnered public attention after the suicide of Admiral Jeremy Boorda, who was the Chief of Naval Operations. The news media reported that his death by suicide may have been caused by a Navy investigation following a story by Newsweek about Boorda wearing two "combat valor pins" on the service ribbons of his uniform, which he received for duty as a weapons officer and executive officer aboard two naval ships off the coast of Indochina during the Vietnam War.[8] Although there were indications these "combat distinguishing devices" were authorized to be worn on his Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal, the Department of the Navy Board For Correction of Naval Records determined after his death that both of the devices were not authorized to be worn on the two decorations.[9]

In 2011, the Department of Defense changed its awards manual regulations concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that the "V" device instead of the oak leaf cluster and 516 inch star would be used to denote additional citations in the rare event of a service member being awarded a second MoH. By May 2015, the Department of Defense changed its awards manual again concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that a separate MOH is presented to an individual for each succeeding act that justifies an award. There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era, so the "V" device has never actually been worn in this fashion.[citation needed]

Until 2017, the criteria and conditions under which the "V" device could be awarded differed among the services. For the Army, the "V" was worn solely to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy".[3] For the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the "V" could be worn to denote combat heroism, or to recognize individuals who were "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations".[10][6] For the Air Force, the "V" could be worn on the Bronze Star Medal to denote heroism in combat, but also on the Commendation Medal and Achievement Medal to denote heroism or for being "placed in harm's way" during contingency deployment operations.

Prior to 1 January 2014, the device was also authorized on Outstanding Unit Awards and Organizational Excellence Awards to indicate the unit participated in direct combat support actions.[4] The "V" device is also authorized for the Air Medal by all the services where heroism in aerial combat was involved on an individual mission. On 15 August 2016, the Coast Guard changed their criteria such that new awards of the "V" would be for valor only, to denote a heroic act or acts while participating in conflict or combat with an armed enemy.[5] On 6 January 2016, the Department of Defense announced that it was revising its military decorations and awards program to include a "V" device change to its original 1940s use of denoting heroism in combat only on specific decorations for the military services.[11][12] Two new "C" and "R" devices will also be used on relevant awards.[11][12]

Device changes[edit]

On 2 February 2017, new silver-plated and gold-plated "V" devices were introduced, followed by wreathed versions in September[1] which led to speculation that the various versions of the "V" device would now indicate how many times a specific medal was awarded with the "V."[12] The U.S. Air Force uniform regulations update of 15 April 2019, was the first to describe and depict the new "V" devices as follows:[13]

On 21 December 2016, the "V" device ceased being authorized for Achievement Medals.[14][15] Retroactive to January 2016, the "V" device ceased being authorized for the Legion of Merit, being replaced by the "C" device.[16]

Decorations eligible for the "V" device[edit]

Currently, the following decorations of the United States Armed Forces are eligible to be awarded with a "V" device.Template:Refn

Decoration Army[14][3] Navy and
Marine Corps[14][6]
Joint Service[17]
Distinguished Flying Cross Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bronze Star Medal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Air Medal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Commendation Medals Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Army and Air Force[edit]

For the Army and the Air Force, the "V" is positioned to the right of any bronze or silver oak leaf clusters from the wearer's perspective, or positioned in the center of the service ribbon if worn alone.[18][13]

Template:Ribbon devices Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for valor
Template:Ribbon devices Bronze Star Medal, two awards, of which at least one was for valor
Template:Ribbon devices15px20px Air Medal (Army), three awards, of which at least one was for valor (Army uses bronze award numerals)
Template:Ribbon devices Air Medal (Air Force), three awards, of which at least one was for valor (Air Force uses oak leaf clusters)
Template:Ribbon devices Air Force Commendation Medal, four awards, of which at least one was for valor

Only 4 devices may be worn per ribbon; an additional ribbon is worn to the wearer's left when necessary to support additional devices:[18][13]

Template:Ribbon devices Template:Ribbon devices Army Commendation Medal, nine awards, of which at least one was for valor
Template:Ribbon devices Template:Ribbon devices Army Commendation Medal, ten awards, of which at least one was for valor

Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard[edit]

For the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, the "V" is always worn in the center of the service ribbon, while any gold or silver 516 Inch Stars are added in balance to the right and left of the "V" starting with the right side from the wearer's perspective.[19][20][21] Marine Corps refer to it as Combat Distinguishing Device. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard continue to award and issue the bronze version. The Marine Corps allows anodized medals and anodized Combat "V"s to be worn on the dress blues uniform.

Template:Ribbon devices21px Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for valor
106px22px Bronze Star Medal, two awards, of which at least one was for valor
Template:Ribbon devices21px20px Air Medal, three awards, of which at least one was for valor (The gold award numeral 3 on the left denotes three individual awards of the Air Medal (only for Navy and Marine Corps))
Template:Ribbon devices21px22px22px Air Medal, three awards, of which at least one was for valor (Coast Guard uses award stars)
106px22px21px22px Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, eight awards, of which at least one was for valor
106px21px22px22px22px22px Coast Guard Commendation Medal, five awards, of which at least one was for valor

Combined with Arabic numerals[edit]

Golden or brass Arabic numerals may be used to indicate the total number of times the medal was awarded if the total number of devices, of any types, exceed 4 total devices and would thus not fit on a single ribbon.[17]

Template:Ribbon devices21px22px22px22px Total of four awards, of which at least one was for valor
Template:Ribbon devices21px20px Total of five awards, of which at least one was for valor
Template:Ribbon devices21px20px Total of nine awards, of which at least one was for valor

Notable recipients[edit]

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See also[edit]




  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'". MIL-DTL-41819/3J. Defense Logistics Agency. Defense Logistics Agency. 2 February 2017. http://quicksearch.dla.mil/qsDocDetails.aspx?ident_number=23234.
  2. Burgess, Lisa (26 October 2006). "Pentagon reviewing 'V' device for consistency". Stars and Stripes. http://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-reviewing-v-device-for-consistency-1.55945.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards". United States Army. 24 June 2013. http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_8_22.pdf.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "AFI 36-2803 Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program". 18 December 2013. p. 218. http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/afi36-2803/afi36-2803_.pdf.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual". 15 August 2016. pp. 1–23. https://media.defense.gov/2017/Mar/29/2001723556/-1/-1/0/CIM_1650_25E.PDF.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "SECNAVINST 1650.1H". https://awards.navy.mil/awards/webdoc01.nsf/7F58DF7CC7E11070852571F60065650B/$File/1650.1h.pdf.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The "V" Device". http://www.omsa.org/files/jomsa_arch/Splits/1991/13357_JOMSA_Vol42_7_31.pdf.
  8. Newsweek, "Beneath the Waves", 5/26/96
  9. "Board for Correction of Naval Records". http://boards.law.af.mil/NAVY/BCNR/CY1998/06956-98.pdf.
  10. DOD MANUAL 1348.33, VOLUME 3, MANUAL OF MILITARY DECORATIONS AND AWARDS: DODWIDE PERSONAL PERFORMANCE AND VALOR DECORATIONS, U.S. Department of Defense, dated 13 October 2020, last accessed 25 October 2020
  11. 11.0 11.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 2 new devices
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Dizzle, Kirk (16 March 2016). "New V, C and R devices". DD214 Blog. Medals of America. http://blog.medalsofamerica.com/5743-2/.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 AFI36-2903: Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, dated 23 April 2019, last accessed 21 May 2019
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named RevokeV
  15. Levine, Peter (21 December 2016). "Section 3: Award Requirements and Restrictions". DoD Instruction 1348.33: DoD Military Decorations and Awards Program. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. p. 13. http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/134833_dodi_2016.pdf. "Includes Army Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Air Force Achievement Medal."
  16. deGrandpre, Andrew; Panzino, Charlsy (30 March 2017). "12 military awards now eligible for new 'C' and 'R' devices, and 2 no longer rate a 'V'". Military Times (Virginia). https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/03/30/12-military-awards-now-eligible-for-new-c-and-r-devices-and-2-no-longer-rate-a-v/.
    Dickstein, Corey (31 March 2017). "Pentagon implements 'C' and 'R' awards devices, removes 'V' from 2 awards". Stars and Stripes (Washington, D.C.). https://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-implements-c-and-r-awards-devices-removes-v-from-2-awards-1.461526.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named DoDM 1348.33
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Department of the Army Pamphlet 670–1 Uniform and Insignia Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia". United States Department of the Army. 25 May 2017. §20–11; p. 253; PDF p. 271. http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/p670_1.pdf.
  19. "CHAPTER FIVE IDENTIFICATION BADGES/AWARDS/INSIGNIA". United States Navy Uniform Regulations. United States Navy, Bureau of Personnel. pp. 5–48. http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcp/EduTrain/GMDE/Documents/Chapter5.pdf.
  20. "Uniform Regulations COMDTINST M1020.6G". United States Coast Guard. March 2012. pp. 3-100, 3-104. http://www.uscg.mil/uniform/docs/CIM_M1020_6G.pdf.
  21. "5. Bronze Letter "V" (Combat Distinguishing Device)". Navy Personnel Command > Support & Services > US Navy Uniforms > Uniform Regulations > Chapter 5 > 5301 - 5319 Awards. January 2015. http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/uniforms/uniformregulations/chapter5/Pages/5301.aspx. "The bronze letter "V" may be worn on the following ribbons if the citation specifically authorizes the "V" for valor (heroism): Decorations awarded prior to 1974: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal. Decorations awarded after 1974: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal. Wear only one "V". Arrange gold, bronze or silver stars, or the oak leaf cluster indicating subsequent awards of the medal (except Air Medal <(see article 5319.7)>, in a horizontal line beside the "V" symmetrically in the center of the suspension ribbons of large and miniature medals (position as detailed below). Arrange them in a horizontal line on the ribbon bar with the "V" in the center and the first star to the wearer's right, the second to the wearer's left, and so on."

Template:US interservice decorations

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