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Bronze "V" device
|Awarded by United States|
|Awarded for||Heroism in combat[n 1]|
|Established||22 December 1945
|Next (lower)||"C" device|
A "V" device is a metal 1⁄4-inch (6.4 mm) capital letter "V" with serifs, worn on the suspension ribbon of a medal or its corresponding service ribbon, that denotes that the medal was awarded by the United States Armed Forces for valor in combat.
Until 2 February 2017, the criteria for which the "V" device could be awarded differed between the services.[n 1] The medals with which a "V" device may be authorized continue to differ, as well as the manner in which the device is worn and the name by which the device is referred to. While the Department of Defense, Army, and Air Force have always referred to it as the "V" Device, the Coast Guard refers to it as the Valor Device, and the Navy and Marine Corps refer to it as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V".
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. Soldiers and 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 since the Army circular.
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 Vietnam during the Vietnam War. 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.
In 2011, the Department of Defense changed the award manual 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 service member being awarded a second MoH. By May 2015, the Department of Defense changed the manual again concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that "A separate MOH is presented to an individual for each succeeding act that justifies award." There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era, so the "V" device was never actually worn in this fashion.
Until 2017, the criteria and conditions under which the "V" device could be awarded differed between the services. For the Army, the "V" was worn solely to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy". 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". 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 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. 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. On 6 January 2017, the Department of Defense announced that it was revising its military decorations and awards program to include a "V" device change to its original 1940's use of denoting heroism in combat only on specific decorations for the military services. Two new "C" and "R" devices will also be used on relevant awards. On 2 February 2017, a new silver plated and gold plated "V" device was introduced, with the various colors of the "V" devices now indicating how many times a specific medal was awarded with the "V". Sometime after 2 February 2017, the individual services will change their regulations such that the silver and gold "V" device will be used to denote second and third awards with the "V". A fourth, fifth, and sixth awarding with the "V" is to be issued with a bronze, silver, and gold "V" device atop a wreath.
Decorations eligible for the "V" device
Currently, the following United States Armed Forces decorations are eligible to be awarded with a "V" device.
|Legion of Merit|
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Bronze Star Medal|
Army and Air Force
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 center of the service ribbon if worn alone. The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the "V" Device before 2 February 2017.
After 2 February 2017, bronze, silver, and gold "V" devices will be used to indicate first, second, and third awards of the device.
|Distinguished Flying Cross||One award for valor|
|Bronze Star Medal||Two awards, both of which were for valor|
|Army Commendation Medal||Eight awards, of which three were for valor|
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 5⁄16 Inch Stars are added in balance to the right and left of the "V" starting with the right side from the wearer's perspective. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard continue to award and issue the bronze version. The Marine Corps allows anodized medals and gold anodized Combat "V"s to be worn on the dress blues uniform. At a future date still to be determined, a bronze "V" with a brass, matte finish denotes a first award with the "V", a silver "V" denotes a second award with the "V", and a gold "V" denotes a third award with the "V". Fourth, fifth, and sixth awards with the "V" would be denoted by a bronze "V" with wreath, silver "V" with wreath, and gold "V" with wreath respectively. The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the device in at least one instance.
Joint Service Commendation Medal
For the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the bronze, silver, or gold "V" device will be used to denote how many awards were given for heroism in combat after 2 February 2017. Oak leaf clusters or arabic numerals may be used to indicate the total number of times the medal was awarded.
|Total of six awards, of which one was for valor|
|Total of four awards, of which two were for valor|
|Total of five awards, of which three were for valor|
- William B. Caldwell, III
- Calvin Graham
- Llewellyn Chilson
- Ray Davis
- Michael Fahey
- Tommy Franks
- William J. Gainey
- Joseph L. Galloway
- Bill Genaust
- William Guarnere
- David H. Hackworth
- Michael Hagee
- Alexander Haig
- Ira Hayes
- Joseph P. Hoar
- Charles T. Horner Jr.
- Robert L. Howard
- Richard Jadick
- Woodrow Keeble
- John Kerry
- Harry Kizirian
- Charles C. Krulak
- Chris Kyle
- Douglas MacArthur
- Richard Marcinko
- John McCain
- Michael A. Monsoor
- Audie Murphy
- Raymond L. Murray
- John P. Murtha
- Peter Pace
- David Petraeus
- Chance Phelps
- Chesty Puller
- Charles B. Rangel
- L. Scott Rice
- Matthew Ridgway
- John Ripley
- Norman Schwarzkopf
- Sidney Shachnow
- Hugh Shelton
- Jamie Smith
- Robert L. Stewart
- Jeff Struecker
- Oliver Stone
- Strom Thurmond
- Matt Urban
- Alejandro Villanueva
- Allen West
- Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.
- Desmond Doss
- From 1945 until 2 February 2017, criteria varied between the services for the award of a medal with the "V" device. While the Army awarded the "V" solely to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy," the Navy and Marine Corps also awarded the "V" to recognize individuals who are "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations", and the Air Force included provisions for awarding the "V" to members who were "placed in harms' way" during contingency deployment operations.
- "DoD Military Decorations and Awards Review Results (1-36)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- Ferdinando, Lisa (7 January 2016). "Pentagon Announces Changes to Military Decorations and Awards Program". DoD News. U.S. Department of Defense.
- "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.
- "Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'". MIL-DTL-41819/3J. Defense Logistics Agency. Defense Logistics Agency. 2 February 2017.
- Burgess, Lisa (26 October 2006). "Pentagon reviewing 'V' device for consistency". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). United States Army. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "AFI 36-2803 Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program" (PDF). 18 December 2013. p. 218. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual" (PDF). 15 August 2016. pp. 1–23. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- The "V" Device
- Newsweek, Beneath the Waves, 5/26/96
- Board for Correction of Naval Records
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 1" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 15 May 2015. p. 34. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 23 November 2010. p. 53. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Dizzle, Kirk (16 March 2016). "New V, C and R devices". DD214 Blog. Medals of America. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Uniform Regulations COMDTINST M1020.6G" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. March 2012. pp. 3–100, 3–104. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "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.
- "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 3 March 2017.