The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal was established by Secretary of the Navy H.A. Herbert and was implemented by Navy Department Special Orders Number 49 of July 20, 1896.


The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal has been awarded for qualifying service from July 20, 1896 to the present.


The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal is awarded on a selective basis to enlisted members in the Regular Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve to recognize good behavior and faithful service in the U.S. Marine Corps while on active duty for a specified period of time.


The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal is worn after the Prisoner of War Medal and before the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal.



The ribbon was originally suspended from a clasp with rounded ends bearing the words U.S. MARINE CORPS. This clasp was eliminated because it could not be worn on the medal when it was bar-mounted with other medals for formal wear.

Enlistment Bars

The order creating the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal also provided that a bar "of appropriate design" would be issued in lieu of additional medals. These bars were engraved on the front with the number of the recipient's most recent enlistment and on the reverse with the dates of the enlistment. Enlistment bars were discontinued on January 4, 1953.


In the early years of this century additional awards of the Good Conduct Medal were noted on the ribbon bar worn on the uniform by the use of bronze numerals. These numerals were replaced by bronze stars in 1946.


From January 4, 1953 to the present bronze stars three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter have been used on both the Good Conduct Medal and its ribbon bar to denote additional awards.


The first Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal was awarded to Sergeant Friedrick Barchewitz.


The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal was designed by Major General Charles Heywood



In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a Marine gunner is depicted serving a naval gun. This scene is encircled within a rope, and beneath it is a scroll bearing the motto SEMPER FIDELIS. Encircling the rope are the words UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. The whole scene rests upon a foul anchor with its crown tilted to the right. The encircling anchor chain is within the raised rim of the medal. The medal is suspended from a bolt action rifle.

The general theme of the design is taken from the Navy Good Conduct Medal, modified to make it more appropriate for the Marine Corps. Thus, the Constitution in the Navy Medal is replaced by a Marine is dressed in the period of the Civil War; his servicing a naval gun alludes to the role played by Marines aboard warships. The motto SEMPER FIDELIS (Always Faithful) is the official motto of the Marine Corps. The rifle suspender is the Lee Navy rifle, a high velocity magazine fed bolt action rifle that used .236 ammunition. The rope, anchor, and chain are nautical symbols that refer to naval service.


In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, there is a blank space for the engraving of the recipient's name. Around the inside rim of the medal, the words FIDELITY (on the left); OBEDIENCE (on the right), and ZEAL (at the bottom).


The ribbon to the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal consists of a field of dark red bisected by a stripe of dark blue. The dark red is taken from the Navy Good Conduct Medal and the blue central stripe, which represents the Marine Corps, is added to distinguish the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal from the Navy Good Conduct Medal.


Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals were numbered from their inception up to (and including part of) World War II. The style and placement of the numbering varied over time but for most of this period the number was engraved as part of the naming of the medal. A major exception to this was a group of 50,000 medals rim numbered in the 20000 to 70000 range. These medals were issued to Marines who had enlisted for the duration of the First World War and were issued unnamed. USMC Good Conduct Medals were also named from their inception to 1951, when the practice was discontinued. The style of naming has varied over the years and ranges from elaborate and artistic engraving in the early years to simple impressed naming in the later years.


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