The Army Good Conduct Medal was established for the Army & Army Air Forces by Executive Order 8809, 28 June 1941* – less than six months before the United States entered into World War II. It was to be selectively awarded to enlisted soldiers who distinguished themselves among their fellow soldiers through exemplary conduct, efficiency, and fidelity throughout a specific period of continuous active service – one year during wartime, and three years during peacetime.
“There is hereby established the Good Conduct Medal… Such medal may be awarded for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity…”President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Executive Order 8809, 28 June 1941
Unit commanders were authorized to award the Good Conduct Medal to soldiers who met each of the following criteria for a qualifying period of service:
- Soldier exhibited character above reproach.
- Whose record of service indicated that the soldier had:
- Willingly complied with the demands of the environment.
- Been loyal and obedient to his or her superiors.
- Faithfully supported the goals of his or her organization and of the Army.
- Conducted him or her self in such an exemplary manner as to be distinguished from fellow soldiers.
- Whose record was not in conflict with exemplary service (minor infractions and non-judicial punishments were not disqualifying, but were reviewed on a case by case basis).
- Who showed efficiency in job performance, meeting all requirements and expectations for his or her grade, specialty, and experience.
A soldier could be awarded the Good Conduct Medal multiple times, for different periods of service. Subsequent awards were denoted with a clasp that could be worn on the service ribbon and suspension ribbon (an example of the third award is shown at right). The second through fifth awards were shown with a bronze clasp with 2-5 loops; the sixth through tenth with a silver clasp with 1- 5 loops; and the eleventh through fifteenth awards with a gold clasp with 1-5 loops.
*Additional amendments to the Good Conduct Medal were made by Executive Order 9323, 31 March 1943, and Executive Order 10444, 10 April 1953.
We’ve created a downloadable PDF of this post, that can be printed for personal use. Available here: Army Good Conduct Medal
Code of Federal Regulations. Title 32 – National Defense, Section 578.37 – Army Good Conduct Medal. U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2008, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2008-title32-vol3/xml/CFR-2008-title32-vol3-sec578-37.xml
United States, Executive Office of the President [Franklin D. Roosevelt]. Executive order 8809: Good Conduct Medal. 28 June 1941. Federal Register, vol. 6, no. 3209. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/08809.html
United States, Executive Office of the President [Franklin D. Roosevelt]. Executive order 9323: Amendment of Executive Order 8809. 31 March 1943. Federal Register, vol. 8, no. 4225, 3 April 1943.
United States, Executive Office of the President [Dwight D. Eisenhower]. Executive order 10444: Amendment of Executive Order 8809 of June 28, 1941, Establishing the Good Conduct Medal, as Amended by Executive Order No. 9323 of March 31, 1943. 10 April 1953. Federal Register, vol. 18, no. 2069, 14 April 1953.