Army Good Conduct Mini Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
Criteria: Exemplary conduct, efficiency and fidelity during three
years of active enlisted service with the U.S. Army (1 year during
Devices: Bronze, Silver, Gold Knotted clasp
Army Good Conduct Medal - Overview
Authorized on June 28, 1941 for exemplary conduct, efficiency and
fidelity and awarded to Army personnel who, on or after August 27, 1940,
had honorably completed three years of active Federal military service.
These military medals
could also be awarded for one year of service after December 7, 1941
while the U.S. was at war. The award was not automatic and required
certification by a commanding officer (usually a battalion commander or
higher). The Army Good Conduct Medal was designed by
Joseph Kiselewski with an eagle perched on a roman sword atop a closed
book. Around the outside are the words, “EFFICIENCY, HONOR, FIDELITY.”
The reverse of the medal has a five pointed star just above center with a
blank scroll for engraving the soldier’s name. Above the star are the
words, “FOR GOOD” and below the scroll is the word, “CONDUCT.” A wreath
of half laurel leaves, denoting accomplishment and half oak leaves,
denoting bravery surrounds the reverse design.
The ribbon was designed by Arthur E. DuBois, the legendary Director
of the Army Institute of Heraldry, and is scarlet with three narrow
white stripes on each side. The ribbon is divided by the white stripes
so as to form thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original
colonies of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the color
scarlet symbolized the mother country and the white stripe symbolized
the virgin land separated by force from the mother country.
Unlike other additional award devices, e.g., oak leaf clusters,
bronze, silver, or gold clasps with knots (or loops) are used to
indicate the total number of awards of the Army Good Conduct Medal.
For instance, two awards of the medal are indicated by two bronze
knots, three by three, etc. Six total awards are indicated by one silver
knot, seven by two silver knots, etc. Eleven total awards are indicated
by one gold knot, twelve by two gold knots, etc. While all regulations
since World War II only authorize a clasp to be worn after the second
award or higher; it is not unusual to see veterans with a clasp having a
single bronze knot on their Army Good Conduct Medal or ribbon; this may have indicated either a single or second award and seems to have been an accepted practice.
Although the Army Good Conduct Medal was officially instituted by
executive order in 1941, it really goes back to the American Revolution.
When General George Washington established the Badge of Military Merit
in 1782 he also created an award called the Honorary Badge of
Distinction. This was the first good conduct award since it was to be
conferred on veteran non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Army
who served more than three years with bravery, fidelity and good
conduct. General Washington directed that the good conduct badge be made
of cloth and each soldier who received it sew a narrow piece of white
cloth on the left arm of his uniform jacket. Soldiers with more than six
years service were to be distinguished by two pieces of cloth set
parallel to each other. General Washington went on to express that this
good conduct badge was a high honor and those who received it should be
treated with particular confidence and consideration. However, just as
the Badge of Military Merit disappeared after the Revolution so did the
Honorary Badge of Distinction.
When President Roosevelt signed executive order 9323 on March 31,
1943 he officially changed the policy that the Army Good Conduct Medal
could be awarded after one year. It should be understood, however, that
additional awards of the Good Conduct Medal cannot be given for each
additional year of service in World War II but required completion of a
subsequent additional three-year period.
During the Korean War, President Eisenhower approved a first award
only which could be presented for service after June 27, 1950 with less
than three years, but more than one year service.
The Air Force ceased using the Army Good Conduct Medal June, 1 1963.
Qualifying airmen were then awarded the Air Force Good Conduct Medal
which differed from the Army Good Conduct Medal only in design of the
ribbon. The medal remained the same. Personnel who earned the Army Good
Conduct medal before earning the Air Force Good Conduct Medal can wear
both with the Air Force Good Conduct Medal coming first.
Discussion over the Army Good Conduct Medal
There is often some discussion if the Army Good Conduct Medal is a
decoration or service medal. Historically, going back to World War II,
the Good Conduct Medal was considered a decoration and was one of a few
medals to be manufactured throughout the war when service medal
production was restricted due to the need to divert metal to the arms
industry. Today however, it is considered a service award.
There was no certificate to denote the award of the Army Good Conduct
Medal until 1981 when the Army began issuing an 8" x 10" paper
certificate. The army regulations covering the issue of the paper
certificate prohibited the issue of the certificate of those awarded the
Good Conduct Medal prior to January 1 1981.
The Army has changed policy on official engraving of a Good Conduct
Medal several times during its history. Currently the Army authorizes
engraving at the government’s expense by the U.S. Army Support Activity
in Philadelphia, PA.
The Good Conduct Medal is especially interesting in that it is the
last United States Army award established prior to World War II. It was
also the last medal that the War Department attempted to issue with a
serial number (a practice dropped in WW II). It is the only United
States Army medal awarded which specifically excludes officers from
eligibility and is only authorized for enlisted personnel.