"V" Device

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"V" Device
Valor device.jpg
Bronze "V" device
Awarded by United States
Type Ribbon device
Awarded for To denote valor only (after 2 February 2017)[1]
To denote valor only or valor / combat service (before 2 February 2017)[1]
Status In use
Established 1944 (1944) (U.S. Army)
First awarded 1945 (1945) (U.S. Army)
13 February 1946 (1946-02-13) (U.S. Navy)
Last awarded Current
Next (lower) "C" device[2][3][4]

The "V" Device is normally a bronze a bronze 14-inch letter "V" (6.4 mm) with serifs that is authorized by the United States Armed Forces as a ribbon and medal device for a defined set of decorations.[5][6]

The Army and Air Force version is referred to as the "V" Device. The Coast Guard version is referred to as the Valor Device. The Navy and Marine Corps version is referred to as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V".[7][8][9][10] The criteria for and wear of the "V" device differs among the services.[11]

As of 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), officially refers to the "V" device in its technical specifications as "Ribbon attachment, letter 'V'".[12]


In 1944, the Army authorized a brass "V", for valor, as an attachment to be worn on the Bronze Star Medal.[13] The "V" ("V" Device) was first worn by Army personnel to denote an award for valor in 1945.[5] The Secretary of the Navy authorized the "V" (Combat "V") for the Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit on 13 February 1946.

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 media story) into whether he was wearing this device on the service ribbons of his uniform without authorization. Boorda had been wearing a Combat "V" on two decorations he was awarded during the Vietnam War as a weapons officer and executive officer aboard two naval ships off the coast of Vietnam. Although there were indications these devices were authorized to be worn on his Navy Commendation and Achievement Medals, 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.[14]

In 2011 the DoD updated regulations concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that the "V" device (instead of the oak leaf cluster and 5/16 inch star) would be used to denote additional citations in the rare event of a soldier being awarded a second MoH. In May 2015 the DoD changed the updated regulations concerning the MoH to specify that "A separate MOH is presented to an individual for each succeeding act that justifies award."[15] There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era.

2017 ribbon device restructuring[edit]

In January 2016, the DoD announced that it was modifying its medal and ribbon device criteria to make them more uniform across the services.[3][1] Part of this included the creation of two new devices, the "R" device and the "C" device.[3][1] From this, a new silver and gold "V" device was introduced on 2 February 2017,[12][6] with the various colors of the "V" devices now denoting how many times said device was awarded on a ribbon or medal.[6]

The military services has awarded and issued certain decorations so far with the bronze "V" device. After 2 February 2017,[12] a silver and gold colored "V" device may be used to denote a second and third awarding.[1] A fourth, fifth, and sixth awarding is to be awarded by a bronze, silver, and gold "V" device atop an identically-colored wreath, respectively.[1] In order to be awarded, issued, and worn, each service branch must have approved and authorized any new device.

The bronze, silver, and gold "V" devices:

"V" device, brass.svg "V" device, silver.svg "V" device, gold.svg

Criteria and wear[edit]

The "V" device must be specifically authorized in the award citation for wear on the decoration. Although a service member may be cited for heroism in combat and be awarded more than one decoration authorizing the device, only one "V" device may be worn on each award.[5] The "V" device may also be authorized for the Air Medal by all the services where heroism in aerial combat was involved on an individual mission. The criteria for the device vary between the services:

  • Army – the "V" is worn solely to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy".[7]
  • Navy and Marine Corps – the "V" is worn to denote combat heroism or to recognize individuals who are "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations".[5][9]
  • Coast Guard - after 15 August 2016, new awards of the "V" shall be worn for valor only; to denote a heroic act or acts while participating in conflict or combat with an armed enemy.[10]
  • Air Force – the "V" is worn on the Bronze Star Medal to denote heroism in combat, on the Commendation Medal and Achievement Medal to denote heroism or being "placed in harms' 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.[8]

Army and Air Force[edit]

The "V" is positioned to the right of any bronze or silver oak leaf clusters from the wearer's perspective, or positioned in center of the service ribbon if worn alone.[16][17] The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the "V" Device in at least one instance:

"V" device, brass.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
"V" device, brass.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svg Bronze Star Medal
"V" device, brass.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal
"V" device, brass.svgSilver oakleaf-3d.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svg Army Commendation Medal
"V" device, brass.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svg Air Force Achievement Medal
After 2 February 2017:
"V" device, silver.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svgOak leaf cluster, bronze.svg Army Commendation Medal, 4 awards, 2 for Valor
"V" device, gold.svgAward numeral 5.png Army Commendation Medal, 5 awards, 3 for Valor
"V" device, brass.svgAward numeral 6.png Army Commendation Medal, 6 awards, 1 for Valor

Either bronze or gold colored arabic numerals may be used.

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.[18][19][20]

The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard continue to award and issue the bronze (referred to as matte brass by the DoD) version (the USMC allows anodized medals and gold anodized Combat "V"s devices to be worn on the dress blues uniform). If and when the "V" changes are authorized by these services, a silver "V" denotes 2nd award, and gold 3rd award.[1] Four, five, and six awards would be denoted by a bronze "V" with wreath, silver "V" with wreath, and gold "V" with wreath respectively.[1]

The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the device in at least one instance:

"V" device, brass.svg Legion of Merit
"V" device, brass.svg 1 golden star.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal ribbon with "V" device, 1st award.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Bronze Star Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon with "V" device, 1st award.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal ribbon with "V" device, 1st award.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
"V" device, brass.svg 1 golden star.svgAward-star-silver-3d.png1 golden star.svg Coast Guard Commendation Medal

Decorations authorized the "V" device[edit]

The following medals including the Joint Service Commendation Medal are authorized the "V" device if applicable:

Decoration Army[7] Navy and
Marine Corps[9]
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Yes Yes Yes
Bronze Star Medal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Air Medal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Commendation Medals Yes Yes Yes Yes
Achievement Medals
(Less the Joint Service Achievement Medal)
Yes Yes Yes

Notable recipients[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dizzle, Kirk (16 March 2016). "New V, C and R devices". DD214 Blog. Medals of America. Retrieved 25 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "DoD Military Decorations and Awards Review Results (1-36)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Ferdinando, Lisa (7 January 2016). "Pentagon Announces Changes to Military Decorations and Awards Program". DoD News. U.S. Department of Defense. 
  4. ^ "DOD MANUAL 1348.33, VOLUME 4 MANUAL OF MILITARY DECORATIONS AND AWARDS: DOD JOINT DECORATIONS AND AWARDS" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. 21 December 2016. p. 39. Retrieved 25 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 23 November 2010. p. 53. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'". MIL-DTL-41819/3J. Defense Logistics Agency. Defense Logistics Agency. 2 February 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). United States Army. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c "AFI 36-2803 Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program" (PDF). 18 December 2013. p. 218. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c SECNAVINST 1650.1H
  10. ^ a b c "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual" (PDF). 15 August 2016. pp. 1–23. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  11. ^ Burgess, Lisa (26 October 2006). "Pentagon reviewing 'V' device for consistency". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Defense Logistics Agency (2 February 2017). "Detail Specification Sheet: Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'" (PDF). MIL-DTL-41819/3J. Defense Logistics Agency. Retrieved 25 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "About the medals". Stripes.com. Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  14. ^ Board for Correction of Naval Records
  15. ^ "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 1" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 15 May 2015. p. 34. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "Department of the Army Pamphlet 670–1 Uniform and Insignia Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia" (PDF). United States Department of the Army. 31 March 2014. p. 237. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "AFI 36-2903 Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel" (PDF). United States Department of the Air Force. 18 July 2011. p. 156. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "CHAPTER FIVE IDENTIFICATION BADGES/AWARDS/INSIGNIA" (PDF). United States Navy Uniform Regulations. United States Navy, Bureau of Personnel. pp. 5–48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Uniform Regulations COMDTINST M1020.6G" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. March 2012. pp. 3–100, 3–104. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "5. Bronze Letter "V" (Combat Distinguishing Device)". Navy Personnel Command > Support & Services > US Navy Uniforms > Uniform Regulations > Chapter 5 > 5301 - 5319 Awards. January 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2017. 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.