Created in 1869, the Good Conduct Medal may be presented to any active member of the United States military who demonstrates three uninterrupted years of honorable behavior in service. Infractions or any disciplinary action cause the three-year clock to start over. In wartime, one year of such behavior may be sufficient for the award. There is a Good Conduct Medal for the Navy (established in 1869), the Marine Corps (1896), the Coast Guard (1923), the Army (1941), and the Air Force (1963). Prior to 1996, four years of honorable service were required.
The medal and ribbon for each branch’s version of the award have undergone a number of changes over time. The current version, dating back to 1961, is silver and in the shape of a Maltese cross with an inscription reading “FIDELITY - ZEAL - OBEDIENCE” and another with the letters “U.S.N.” The ribbon is dark red with no additional decoration.
Additional awards may be indicated by service stars.