"V" Device

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"V" Device
Valor device.svg         Combat Distinguishing Device.svg
The bronze-colored "V" (Valor) device for the U.S. Army, USAF, and USCG (left), and the golden-colored one for the U.S. Navy and USMC (right).
Awarded by United States
Type Ribbon device
Awarded for to denote valor or combat service
Status In use
First awarded 1945; 72 years ago (1945)
Last awarded Current
Next (lower) "C" Device[1][2][3]

The "V" Device is a miniature 14 inch letter "V" with serifs that is authorized by the United States Armed Forces as a ribbon device for a defined set of decorations.[4]

The Army and Air Force version is bronze and referred to as the "V" Device. The Coast Guard version is also bronze but referred to as the Valor Device. The Navy and Marine Corps version is gold and referred to as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V".[5][6][7][8] The criteria for and wear of the "V" device differs among the services.[9]

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.[4] 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".[5]
  • 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".[4][7]
  • Coast Guard - after August 15, 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.[8]
  • 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 January 1, 2014, the device was also authorized on Outstanding Unit Awards and Organizational Excellence Awards to indicate the unit participated in direct combat support actions.[6]

Army and Air Force[edit]

The bronze "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.[10][11] The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the "V" Device in at least one instance:

Valor device.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Valor device.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze Star Medal
Valor device.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal
Valor device.svgSilver oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Commendation Medal
Valor device.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Air Force Achievement Medal

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.[12][13][14] The Navy and Marine Corps use an anodized gold version, while the Coast Guard uses a bronze version like the Army and Air Force. The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the device in at least one instance:

Combat Distinguishing Device.svg Legion of Merit
Combat Distinguishing Device.svg 1 golden star.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Combat Distinguishing Device.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Bronze Star Medal
Combat Distinguishing Device.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Combat Distinguishing Device.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Valor device.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[5] Navy and
Marine Corps[7]
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


In 1944, the Army authorized a brass "V", for valor, as an attachment to be worn on the Bronze Star Medal.[15] The "V" ("V" Device) was first worn by Army personnel to denote an award for valor in 1945.[4] The Secretary of the Navy authorized the "V" (Combat "V") for the Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit on February 13, 1946.

In 1996, the "V" device garnered public attention after the suicide of Admiral Jeremy Boorda, who was the Chief of Naval Operations of the Department of the Navy. 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. Admiral 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.[16]

In 2011 the Department of Defense 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."[17] There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era.

Notable recipients[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Military-Decorations-and-Awards-Review-Results.pdf
  2. ^ DoD Military Decorations and Awards Review Results (1-36) http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Military-Decorations-and-Awards-Review-Results.pdf Retrieved January 10, 2016)
  3. ^ Ferdinando, Lisa (7 January 2016). "Pentagon Announces Changes to Military Decorations and Awards Program". DoD News. U.S. Department of Defense. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b c "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). United States Army. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "AFI 36-2803 Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program" (PDF). 18 December 2013. p. 218. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c SECNAVINST 1650.1H
  8. ^ a b c "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual" (PDF). 15 August 2016. pp. 1–23. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  9. ^ Burgess, Lisa (October 26, 2006). "Pentagon reviewing 'V' device for consistency". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Department of the Army Pamphlet 670–1 Uniform and Insignia Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia" (PDF). United States Army. 31 March 2014. p. 237. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "AFI 36-2903 Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel" (PDF). United States Air Force. 18 July 2011. p. 156. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "Uniform Regulations COMDTINST M1020.6G" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. March 2012. pp. 3–100, 3–104. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  14. ^ http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/uniforms/uniformregulations/chapter5/Pages/5301.aspx Navy Personnel Command > Support & Services > US Navy Uniforms > Uniform Regulations > Chapter 5 > 5301 - 5319 Awards (Downloaded January 2015): 5. Bronze Letter "V" (Combat Distinguishing Device). 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.
  15. ^ "About the medals". Stripes.com. Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Board for Correction of Naval Records
  17. ^ "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 1" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. May 15, 2015. p. 34. Retrieved February 15, 2016.