*SPECIAL NOTE: This list of Bronze Star with 'V' device recipients should not be considered complete. This is an ongoing project and we welcome information on additional Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star with 'V' device, ARCOM with 'V' device, and Air Medal with 'V' device recipients. Please contact us via email.
General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Roosevelt dated February 3, 1944, wrote: “The fact that the ground troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance. The award of the Air Medal has had an adverse reaction on the ground troops, particularly the Infantry Riflemen who are now suffering the heaviest losses, air or ground, in the Army, and enduring the greatest hardships.” The Air Medal had been adopted two years earlier to raise airmen’s morale. President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal by Executive Order 9419 dated 4 February 1944, retroactive to 7 December 1941. This authorization was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 3, dated 10 February 1944. The Executive Order was amended by President Kennedy, per Executive Order 11046 dated 24 August 1962, to expand the authorization to include those serving with friendly forces.
The Bronze Star Medal (BSM) is governed by Executive Order 11046, which authorizes the Secretary of a Military Department to award the BSM to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces after December 6, 1941, who distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
In 1944, military officials decided to create a special “footnote” to the Bronze Star by authorizing a tiny brass “V,” for valor, that could be attached to the ribbon. The device, also known as “V” device, Combat V, or Combat Distinguishing Device, is authorized by all the services. The “V” is used as an attachment to a defined set of awards and decorations at or below the level of the Bronze Star. The Medal of Honor and Silver Star never include a “V” device, because valor is implicit in the award itself.