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|Awarded by United States|
|Awarded for||To denote valor (after 2 February 2017)
To denote valor or combat service (before 2 February 2017)
13 February 1946 (U.S. Navy)
|Next (lower)||"C" device|
The "V" device, officially the Ribbon Attachment, Letter "V", is a miniature, metallic, 1⁄4-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.
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". The criteria for and wear of the "V" device differs among the services. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), officially refers to the device in its technical specifications as the "Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'".
In 1944, the Army authorized a brass "V", for valor, as an attachment to be worn on the Bronze Star Medal. The "V" ("V" Device) was first worn by Army personnel to denote an award for valor in 1945. 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.
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." There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era.
2017 ribbon device restructuring
In January 2016, the DoD announced that it was modifying its medal and ribbon device criteria to make them more uniform across the services. Part of this included the creation of two new devices, the "R" device and the "C" device. From this, a new silver "V" device was introduced on 2 February 2017, in addition to the already-existing bronze and gold variants, the various colors of the "V" devices now denoting how many times said device was awarded on a ribbon or medal.
Prior to 2 February 2017, the U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Force used bronze "V" devices, whereas the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps used gold ones. However, after 2 February 2017, gold is used by all branches to denote the third awarding, bronze (referred to as matte brass by the DoD) the first awarding, and silver the second awarding. Fourth, fifth, and sixth awardings are denoted by bronze, silver, and gold "V" devices atop an identically-colored wreath, respectively.
Criteria and wear
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. 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".
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
Army and 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 in at least one instance:
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Joint Service Commendation Medal|
|Army Commendation Medal|
|Air Force Achievement Medal|
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.
Prior to 2 February 2017, the Navy and Marine Corps used an anodized gold version, while the Coast Guard used a bronze version like the Army and Air Force. After 2 February 2017, a gold "V" denotes 3rd award, silver 2nd, and bronze (referred to as matte brass by the DoD) 1st, for all services. Fourth, fifth, and sixth awardings are denoted by a bronze, silver, and gold "V" atop a wreath respectively.
The following examples depict decorations that were awarded with the device in at least one instance:
|Legion of Merit|
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal|
|Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal|
|Coast Guard Commendation Medal|
The following medals including the Joint Service Commendation Medal are authorized the "V" device if applicable:
|Legion of Merit|
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Bronze Star Medal|
(Less the Joint Service Achievement Medal)
- 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
- Dizzle, Kirk (16 March 2016). "New V, C and R devices". DD214 Blog. Medals of America. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- "Ribbon Attachment, Letter 'V'". MIL-DTL-41819/3J. Defense Logistics Agency. Defense Logistics Agency. 2 February 2017.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 23 November 2010. p. 53. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "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.
- Burgess, Lisa (26 October 2006). "Pentagon reviewing 'V' device for consistency". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- "About the medals". Stripes.com. Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- 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 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.