The letter “A” device was originally established for wear with the American Defense Service Medal (ADSM), an award promulgated by an Executive Order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 28, 1941. Created to recognize the service of personnel in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard who served during emergency periods also proclaimed by FDR, the ADSM was acknowledgement that hostilities were taking place between the U.S. and Germany despite the fact that the U.S. was neutral at the time.

As the years and decades passed following World War II, the “A” device was issued less and less, and by the turn of the millennium it was considered all but obsolete. Seeking a device to recognize Airmen who had served a short tour at a location above the Arctic Circle, the Air Force settled on the now-unused “A” for its Arctic Service Device, but with a simple twist to differentiate it from its forebear: it is rendered in a font with serifs, while the ADSM device is sans serif.

Five years after it authorized the device for wear with the Air Force Overseas Ribbon – Short Tour, the Air Force announced that only those Airmen who had been assigned to Thule Air Force Base in Greenland (and completed the requisite number of service days) are qualified to wear the “A” device.

Only one “A” device may be worn on the Overseas Ribbon – Short Tour regardless of how many tours the wearer may have completed at Thule. If an oak leaf cluster (or clusters) are worn on the Overseas Ribbon to reflect subsequent awards of the honor, the “A” device is worn to the wearer’s right of the clusters.

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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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.