United States military award devices

The United States Armed Forces authorizes certain medal and ribbon devices that may be worn if authorized on a defined set of United States military decorations and awards.[1] The devices vary between 316 inch to 1132 inch in size and are usually attached to suspension and service ribbons of medals and to unit award ribbons. The devices are usually made of brass or metal alloys that appear gold, silver, or bronze in color with either a dull or polished look. The devices may denote additional awards of the same decoration or award, an award for valor or meritorious combat service, participation in a particular campaign, periods of honorable service, specific events, and other special meanings. These are sometimes referred to as award devices, but are most commonly referred to in service regulations and Department of Defense instructions simply as "devices" for awards and decorations.

List of medal and ribbon devices

On January 7, 2016, the Secretary of Defense approved two new devices for medals and ribbons: a "C" Device which will be affixed to multi-purpose performance awards in recognition of meritorious service under combat conditions and, an "R" Device which will be affixed to non-combat performance awards to specifically recognize remote but direct impact on combat operations.[2][3] The "R" device is to be a bronze letter "R", 14 inch in size.[4] Both of the devices will be worn if authorized for wear, on specific decorations below the Bronze Star Medal in precedence.[5] The services have a year to implement these changes.[6][7]

The following is a list of U.S. military service devices for medals and ribbons:

Examples of service ribbons with devices

The following are examples of various devices affixed to different service ribbons:

Silver Star with one bronze oak leaf cluster indicating a total of two awards.
Gold star
Legion of Merit with one gold 5/16 inch star indicating a total of two awards.
Distinguished Flying Cross with one silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters indicating a total of eight awards.
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" (Navy and Marine Corps, gold anodized).
Gold star
Gold star
Purple Heart Medal with two gold 5/16 inch stars indicating a total of three awards.
Joint Service Commendation Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters indicating a total of four awards.
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with four gold 5/16 inch stars indicating a total of five awards.
Silver star
Gold star
Coast Guard Achievement Medal with one silver and one gold 5/16 inch star indicating a total of seven awards.
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one 3/16 inch service star indicating a total of two awards.
Bronze eagle atop globe covering anchor
Silver star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with one silver 3/16 inch service star and Fleet Marine Force(FMF) Combat Operations Insignia indicating a total of six awards.
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with two 3/16 inch campaign stars and Arrowhead device indicating a total of two awards and at least one combat jump
Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with "N" Device and oak leaf cluster
Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon with Arctic Device
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with bronze Hourglass Device for ten years of service, the "M" Device for mobilization, and the "3" Numeral Device indicating three mobilizations.
Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with Hurricane Device.
Army of Occupation Medal with Berlin Airlift Device.
Silver block letter O
Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device.
Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Sharpshooter Device.


  1. "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 23 November 2010. p. 7. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  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. Baldor, Lolita C. (6 January 2016). "Pentagon set to announce awards for combat, drone service". Associated Press U.S. News. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  5. Lamothe, Dan (6 January 2016). "Pentagon to overhaul how it recognizes heroism, review cases for modern veterans". Checkpoint, The Washingto Post. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. Copp, Tara (6 January 2016). "DOD to review 1,100 Iraq, Afghanistan medals to determine if they were awarded appropriately". Stars and Stripes. Defense Media Activity. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  7. Cowan, Paris (8 January 2016). "Pentagon introduces military decorations for drone pilots, cyber fighters". itnews. nextmedia Pty Ldt. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
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