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Good Conduct Medal
GoodConductMedals.jpg
Good Conduct medals
Awarded by United States Armed Forces
Type Medal
Eligibility Enlisted Persons
Awarded for Exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity in active Federal Military service.
Status Air Force - Current
Army - Current
Coast Guard - Current
Marine Corps - Current
Navy - Current
Precedence
Next (higher) Prisoner of War Medal
Next (lower) Reserve Good Conduct Medal
Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Marine Corps Good Conduct ribbon.svg

Navy Good Conduct ribbon.svg Air Force Good Conduct ribbon.svg
Coast Guard Good Conduct ribbon.svg
ribbons: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard

The Good Conduct Medal is one of the oldest military decorations of the United States military. The Navy Good Conduct Medal was first issued in 1869, followed by a Marine version in 1896. The Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal was issued in 1923 and the Army Good Conduct Medal in 1941. The Air Force was the last service to create a Good Conduct Medal in 1963. The USAF discontinued the Good Conduct Medal for a brief period from February 2006 to February 2009.

Contents

Criteria

The Good Conduct Medal is awarded to any enlisted member of the United States military who completes three consecutive years of "honorable and faithful service". Such service implies that a standard enlistment was completed without any non-judicial punishments, disciplinary infractions, or court martial offenses. If a service member commits an offense, the three-year mark "resets" and a service member must perform an additional three years of service without having to be disciplined, before the Good Conduct may be authorized.

Service for the Good Conduct Medal must be performed on active duty and the medal is not awarded to members of the military reserve or National Guard who are not federalized to active service. For those Reserve and Guard members who satisfactorily perform annual training and drill duty, however, a separate series of Reserve Good Conduct Medals may be awarded in lieu.

During times of war, the Good Conduct Medal may be awarded for one year of faithful service. The Good Conduct Medal may also be awarded posthumously, to any soldier killed in the line of duty.

Navy Good Conduct Medal

Of all the Good Conduct Medals, the Navy Good Conduct Medal is the oldest, dating back to 1869. There have been a total of four versions of the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the first version of which was issued from 1870 to 1884. The original Navy Good Conduct Medal was also not worn on a uniform, but issued with discharge papers as a badge to present during reenlistment. A sailor in the Navy received a new Good Conduct Medal for each honorable enlistment completed.

The second version of the Navy Good Conduct Medal was issued between 1880 and 1884. The medal was considered a “transitional decoration” and was the first of the Good Conduct Medals to be worn on a uniform. The medal was phased out by 1885 and a new medal issued between 1885 and 1961. The new medal was a Good Conduct medallion suspended from an all red ribbon. Enlistment bars, denoting each honorable enlistment completed, were pinned on the ribbon as attachments.

The all red ribbon of the Navy Good Conduct Medal created a slight oddity during the Spanish American War when the Navy created the Specially Meritorious Service Medal which also used an all red ribbon. In addition, there were recorded cases of Navy enlisted personnel, who had received the Good Conduct Medal, also receiving the Specially Meritorious Service Medal and thus displaying two identical award ribbons, for two separate awards, on a Navy uniform. This is one of the few times in the history of U.S. military awards that two awards have shared an identical award ribbon, although the ribbon for the Order of the Bath is also nearly identical to the Navy Good Conduct Medal but is a foreign award of the United Kingdom.

The current Navy Good Conduct Medal dates from 1961 and is issued to every active duty sailor who completes three years of honorable and faithful service. Prior to 1 January 1996, four years of honorable and faithful service was required. Service stars denote additional awards of the Navy Good Conduct Medal. The back of the Good Conduct Medal has the three words "FIDELITY ZEAL OBEDIENCE" superimposed in a semi-circle. Upon 12 years of honorable and faithful service, sailors are also allowed to wear gold-colored version of their Petty Officer insignia, something usually seen with those with the rank of Chief Petty Officer or Petty Officer First Class and above, but occasionally Petty Officer Second Class.

Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal

Old Version USMC GCM

The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal was first issued in 1896 and was originally a ribbon and medal suspended from a clasp bearing the words "U.S. Marine Corps".

The clasp was eliminated after 1935 and the medal has remained unchanged in appearance since that time.

Enlistment bars, showing each honorable period of service, were used until 1953 when the Marine Corps adopted service stars to denote additional awards of the Good Conduct Medal. Also from its inception in 1896 until World War II, the medal was hand engraved with the name of the recipient on the reverse (except for during World War I when they were numbered on the rim instead). This practice was changed to stamping of the individual's name during WW2 and was done away with all together around 1951.

It is affectionately nicknamed, "The Good Cookie" by Marines.

Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal

The Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal was designed in 1923 and originally used enlistment bars as attachments, in the same manner as the Marine Corps and Navy Good Conduct Medal. In 1966, the Coast Guard began using service stars to denote additional awards of the Good Conduct Medal.

Army Good Conduct Medal

The Army Good Conduct Medal Reverse

The Army Good Conduct Medal was established by Executive Order 8809, dated 28 June 1941, and authorized the award for soldiers completing three years active service after that date.

The criteria were amended by Executive Order 9323, dated 31 March 1943, to authorize the award for candidates having three years of service after 7 December 1941 or one year of service while the United States is at war.

Executive Order 10444, dated 10 April 1953, revised the criteria to authorize the award for candidates having three years of service after 27 August 1940; one year of service after 7 December 1941 while the United States is at war; and for candidates having the first award for service after 27 June 1950 upon termination of service, for periods less than three years, but more than one year.

The eagle, with wings spread, denotes vigilance and superiority.
The horizontal sword denotes loyalty,
The book represents knowledge acquired and ability gained.
On the reverse, the lone star denotes merit.
The wreath of laurel and oak leaves denotes reward and strength.
Subsequent Award Clasps in gold
  • The second and subsequent awards are indicated by the wear of the clasp with loops on the ribbon.
Bronze clasps indicate the second (two loops) through fifth award (five loops);
Silver clasps indicate sixth (one loop) through tenth award (five loops); and
Gold clasps indicate eleventh (one loop) through the fifteenth award (five loops).

The Good Conduct Medal is awarded for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity in active Federal Military service. It is awarded on a selective basis to each soldier who distinguishes himself/herself from among his/her fellow soldiers by their exemplary conduct, efficiency, and fidelity throughout a specified period of continuous enlisted active Federal military service. Qualifying periods of service include each three years completed after 27 August 1940 or, for first award only, upon completion of at least one year upon termination of service if separated prior to three years. Also for the first award only, for those individuals who died before completing one year of active Federal military service if the death occurred in the line of duty. The immediate commander must approve the award and the award must be announced in permanent orders.

Effective 1 September 1982, Active Guard and Reserve personnel became eligible for award of the Good Conduct Medal. For Active Guard and Reserve personnel, the Good Conduct Medal qualification period may commence at a time during the three years immediately preceding the 1 September 1982 effective date, provided no portion of service for the Good Conduct Medal is included in a period of service for which the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal was awarded.

Air Force Good Conduct Medal

The last of the Good Conduct Medals is the Air Force Good Conduct Medal which was authorized by Congress on 6 July 1960, but not created until 1 June 1963. Between 1947 and 1963, Air Force personnel were issued the Army Good Conduct Medal. For those serving both before and after 1963, both the Army and Air Force Good Conduct Medals could be worn simultaneously on an Air Force uniform.

The medal is the same as the Army Good Conduct Medal, except that the ribbons are different for each medal. The Air Force Good Conduct Medal has remained unchanged in appearance since its original design over forty years ago. Additional decorations of the Air Force Good Conduct Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters.

The criteria for award of the Air Force Good Conduct medal are as follows: It is awarded to Air Force enlisted personnel during a three-year period of active military service or for a one-year period of service during a time of war. Airmen awarded this medal must have had character and efficiency ratings of excellent or higher throughout the qualifying period including time spent in attendance at service schools, and there must have been no convictions of court martial during this period[1].

In October 2005, the 97th Air Force Uniform Board met and considered discontinuing the medal with the rationale that good conduct of Airmen is the expected standard, not an exceptional occurrence worthy of recognition. The decision was finalized on 8 February 2006 and the medal was no longer issued. Airmen who had previously earned the Good Conduct Medal were still authorized to wear it. By May 2008, however, Air Force officials began reconsidering the policy.[2] On 11 February 2009, the medal was reinstated and made retroactive to 8 February 2006, with all eligible recipients being awarded the medal automatically.[3]

See also

External links

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