The Bronze Star was conceived by Col. Russell P. "Red" Reeder in 1943 as a morale-booster for ground troops, particularly infantryman, much like the Air Medal for airmen that had been established two years earlier. The medal was adopted a year later (retroactive to the attack on Pearl Harbor) and is awarded to members of the Armed Forces—and foreign soldiers serving with or alongside them—for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone not involving aerial flight.
John F. Kennedy amended the criteria in 1962 to include those serving with friendly foreign forces in a conflict against an armed enemy (such as in Vietnam). A second amendment in 2003 addressed matters of Homeland Security primarily as regards the Coast Guard when not performing as a service of the Navy.
Noted recipients include: military personnel Omar Nelson Bradley, Jessica Lynch, John McCain, Norman Schwarzkopf, William Westmoreland, and Chuck Yeager; actors James Arness, Charles Durning, Henry Fonda, Audie Murphy, and Mickey Rooney; author/journalists Dominick Dunne, Ron Kovic, and Rod Serling; director Oliver Stone; musician Glenn Miller; politicians Spiro Agnew, Bob Dole, Alexander Haig, John Kerry, and Colin Powell; and TV personality Judge Joseph Wapner.
Designed by Rudolf Freund, a jeweler also behind the Silver Star, the medal is an 1-1/2-inch bronze star with a 3/16th-inch star superimposed in the center. On the back is the inscription "Heroic or Meritorious Achievement" with space for the recipient's name. Its suspension ribbon has a 1/8th-inch ultramarine stripe in the center flanked on either side by stripes of 1/32nd-inch white, 9/16th-inch scarlet, and 1⁄32nd-inch white.
A "V" device indicates valor; subsequent awards are marked by oak leaf clusters for the Army and Air Force and by stars for the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. The Pentagon revisited the criteria for awarding the Bronze Star with the “V” device in late 2016 and early 2017 as part of its rollout of two other letter devices, “C” (combat) and “R” (remote). Prior to the introduction of the “C” device, the Bronze Star Medal without the “V” device was frequently awarded to personnel who had compiled records of meritorious service, causing some resentment because of confusion regarding just what the requirements of the Bronze Star really were. Most people (including members of the Armed Forces) automatically assumed it was a combat award, but in 2013 both the Army and Air Force reported that over 90 percent of the Bronze Stars awarded for service in Afghanistan were in fact for meritorious service not related to combat.

With the introduction of the “C” device to indicate the recipient was serving in an area exposed to hostile action or under the real threat of hostile action), there is no pressure to issue Bronze Stars for meritorious duty not involving combat, and the “V” device will continue to be used to indicate truly heroic actions during combat situations.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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