Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Criteria: Outstanding performance and conduct during three years of continuous active enlisted service in the U.S. Marine Corps
Devices: Bronze, Silver Star
Notes: Earlier ribbon was 1¼" wide
The USMC Good Conduct Medal is awarded for outstanding performance, based on good conduct and faithful service for three- year periods of continuous active enlisted service. This medal is worn after the Prisoner of War Medal and before the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal.
The USMC Good Conduct Medal was established by the Secretary of the Navy on July 20, 1896. The medal is awarded to an enlisted Marine for obedience, sobriety, military proficiency, neatness and intelligence during three years of continuous active service. The Marine receiving the award must have had no convictions by court martial and no more than one nonjudicial punishment during the three-year period. For the first award, the medal may be awarded to the next-of-kin in those cases where the individual is missing in action or dies of wounds received in combat. A Marine may also receive the medal if separated from the service as a result of wounds incurred in combat.
The USMC Good Conduct Medal was designed by Major General Charles Heywood, the ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps. The medal is a circular bronze disc with an anchor and anchor chain circling an enlisted Marine in the uniform of the late nineteenth century. The Marine is holding the lanyard of a naval rifle (gun) and below this is a scroll with the motto of the Corps, “SEMPER FIDELIS.” In the space between the Marine and the anchor chain is the raised inscription, “UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.” The reverse side of the medal has the raised inscription, “FIDELITY - ZEAL - OBEDIENCE” centered in between two concentric raised circles and with room in the center to inscribe the recipient’s name.
The medal has undergone several design modification since its inception. The original medal incorporated an upper bronze suspension bar bearing the raised inscription, “U.S. MARINES CORPS.” Number clasps, placed on the suspension ribbon between the upper suspension bar and the medallion were used on the original medal to indicate additional awards. Prior to World War I, medals were engraved with the recipient’s name, service number and date span. During World War I, medals were impressed with rim numbers and many were issued without engraving. Following World War II, the Marine Corps changed from engraving to stamping the recipient’s information on the medal’s reverse. The practice of using a suspension bar and clasps was also eliminated during this period.
The ribbon of the medal is dark red with a dark blue stripe in the center. Additional awards are denoted by three-sixteenth bronze stars.