Knowing you need a letter “E” device for a ribbon is one thing. Picking out the correct size and color is another, thanks to changing Navy regulations, distinct specifications for Marine Corps wear, and the device’s use by organizations affiliated with but not part of the United States Navy.

The two most common uses of the “E” device are with the Navy’s “E” Ribbon and the Navy and Coast Guard’s Marksmanship ribbons.

Created from the old Battle Efficiency Award, which was simply a capital “E” sewn directly onto the sleeve of the uniform, the Navy “E” Ribbon as established in 1976 thanks to a recommendation by Secretary of the Navy John Middendorf II. The ribbon is awarded on the same basis as the “Battle ‘E’ Award,” i.e., to those Sailors serving on or with ships and units cited for outstanding performance during a Battle Efficiency competition.

When sailors earn a “E” Ribbon, it is worn with a 3/16-inch silver “E” in the center; choose the device for this ribbon by picking “Silver” and “Small” in the drop-down selection boxes to the right. “E” devices are authorized for the second and third times Sailors qualify for the ribbon, with all letters centered symmetrically. For the fourth award of the ribbon, all three “E”s are removed and are replaced with a singled, “E” centered on the ribbon bar. No further Silver “E” attachments are added beyond this point regardless of how many more times a Sailors qualifies for the award.

United States Marines who earn an “E” ribbon also wear the silver  “E” device, but in the 1/8-inch (miniature size). Just as with Sailors who earn four “E” ribbons, Marines switch to a single, wreathed version of the device to reflect four or more awards.

The ¼-inch silver “E” is authorized for wear on the ribbon bar of both the Navy’s and the Coast Guard’s Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Marksmanship ribbons (choose “Silver” and “Large” in the selection boxes). Note that the “E” is not worn on the Marksmanship medal issued by either service; the medal itself indicates the wearer is rated as an Expert.

One size/color combination that is no longer authorized by any branch of the United States Armed Forces is the bronze ¼-inch (Large) version. It was previously worn by Sailors who had twice earned an “Expert” Pistol or Rifle Marksmanship rating, and was replaced with a silver version if they earned that rating a third time. The Navy still uses a bronze

The Large gold “E” is a device worn on the year ribbons of members of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) or Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC). In the NSCC, the device indicates “Excellence” and is awarded to all Officers, Instructors, Midshipmen and Cadets attached to a unit that earned a 3.5 score on the NSCC Annual Evaluation and Inspection (3.7 for NLCC units).

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