|Awarded by United States|
The "V" Device is a miniature bronze or gold colored 1⁄4 inch letter "V" with serifs that is authorized to be worn on certain personal decorations awarded to members of the United States Army (bronze "V"), Air Force (bronze "V"), Navy (gold "V"), Marine Corps (gold "V"), and Coast Guard (bronze "V"). The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard refer to the "V" device as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V".
The criteria for wear of the "V" device differ between the services.
Criteria and wear
The "V" device must be specifically authorized in the award citation for wear on the award. Although a service member may be cited for heroism in combat and be awarded some awards authorizing the "V" device, only one "V" may be worn on each award. The criteria vary between the services:
- Army – the "V" is worn solely to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy".
- Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard – the "V" is worn to denote combat heroism or to recognize individuals who are "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations".
- 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, and on the Outstanding Unit Award and Organizational Excellence Award ("V" device discontinued for both awards on January 1, 2014) it had indicated the unit participated in direct combat support actions.
For the Medal of Honor, the Department of Defense, Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, 2010 specifies, "for each succeeding act that would otherwise justify award of the Medal of Honor, the individual receiving the subsequent award is authorized to wear an additional Medal of Honor ribbon and/or a "V" device on the Medal of Honor suspension ribbon."
Army and Air Force
The "V" Device is worn alone or in conjunction with bronze or silver oak leaf clusters on Army and Air Force service ribbons. The "V" is always worn to the right of any oak leaf clusters from the wearer's perspective. The "V" is worn in the center of the ribbon if no oak leaf clusters are worn.
|Distinguished Flying Cross (one award with the "V")|
|Bronze Star Medal (two awards; 1-2 awards with the "V")|
|Joint Service Commendation Medal (three awards; 1-3 awards with the "V")|
|Army Commendation Medal (four awards; 1-4 awards with the "V")|
|Outstanding Unit Award (five awards; 1-5 with the "V") - "V" discontinued 1-1-2014|
The Combat "V" may be worn alone or in conjunction with gold or silver 5⁄16 Inch Stars on Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard service ribbons. The "V" is always worn in the center. Any stars are added to the right and left of the "V" in balance, starting with the right side from the wearer's perspective.
|Legion of Merit (one award with the "V")|
|Distinguished Flying Cross (two awards; 1-2 awards with the "V")|
|Bronze Star Medal (three awards; 1-3 awards with the "V")|
|Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards; 1-4 awards with the "V")|
|Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (five awards; 1-5 awards with the "V")|
|Coast Guard Commendation Medal (eight awards; 1-8 awards with the "V")|
Air Medal with "V" device
The military service branches authorize the "V" Device (or Combat "V") for the Air Medal. In the past, Air Medal devices varied greatly depending upon the branch of service and time period of issuance. Air Medal devices denote a distinction between individual flight achievement and those awarded for strike-flight missions. An Air Medal with the "V" device is awarded for an individual mission where heroism in aerial combat was involved.
Table of decorations
The "V" device may be worn on the following decorations:
|Army personnel||Navy and Marine Corps personnel||Air Force personnel||Coast Guard personnel|
|Medal of Honor||Medal of Honor||Medal of Honor||Medal of Honor|
|Bronze Star Medal||Legion of Merit||Distinguished Flying Cross||Legion of Merit|
|Air Medal||Distinguished Flying Cross||Bronze Star Medal||Bronze Star Medal|
|Joint Service Commendation Medal||Bronze Star Medal||Air Medal||Joint Service Commendation Medal|
|Army Commendation Medal||Air Medal||Joint Service Commendation Medal||Coast Guard Commendation Medal|
|Joint Service Commendation Medal||Air Force Commendation Medal||Coast Guard Achievement Medal|
|Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal||Air Force Achievement Medal|
|Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal||Outstanding Unit Award (Discontinued 1-1-2014)|
|Organizational Excellence Award (Discontinued 1-1-2014)|
In 1944, the Army authorized the "V" Device as an attachment to be worn on the Bronze Star Medal. The "V" device was first worn to denote an award for valor in 1945. The Secretary of the Navy authorized the Combat "V" for the Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit on February 13, 1946.
The Army and Air Force authorizes the "V" Device for specific decorations to denote valor. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard authorizes the Combat "V" for specific decorations to denote valor in combat, combat participation, or combat support participation.
In 2011, updated regulations concerning the Medal of Honor specified that the "V" Device (or Combat "V"), instead of the oak leaf cluster and 5/16 inch star would be used to denote additional citations in the rare event of a second Medal of Honor recipient. This is the first use of the "V" device for a Medal of Honor. As there has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the era of World War I, the use of the "V" in this fashion has yet to be implemented in practice.
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 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.
- Daniel Brandenstein
- William B. Caldwell, III
- Llewellyn Chilson
- Ray Davis
- Michael Fahey
- Tommy Franks
- William J. Gainey
- Joseph L. Galloway
- William Guarnere
- David H. Hackworth
- Michael Hagee
- Alexander Haig
- Ira Hayes
- Joseph P. Hoar
- Robert L. Howard
- Richard Jadick
- Harry Kizirian
- Charles C. Krulak
- Douglas MacArthur
- John McCain
- Richard Marcinko
- Michael A. Monsoor
- Audie Murphy
- John P. Murtha
- Raymond L. Murray
- 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.
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- Board for Correction of Naval Records