In 2019, I requested my Dad’s Military Service Records from the National Archives. I received an amazing amount of information back. Some things I knew, some I did not. One thing that stood out was the documentation from his being awarded a Good Conduct Medal. Finding out about these things after a parent passes away is always difficult and sometimes you will never know the why’s or wherefore’s. Although my Sister and I had never seen the medal before, I was able, through research, to find the exact medal he was given in 1964. Using that research, I located one that was for sale on eBay. Even if a replica, I wanted to see the medal my Dad received up close. What I received was from old unused inventory that someone had purchased and I could not have been happier with the find!
Things I already knew: Dad, a Carlisle, Fayette County, WV native, was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio. He received an Honorable Discharge from the Air Force. He belonged to the Air Force Reserves. He was a Mechanic Specialist (McDonnell F-101B Voodoo) and he was a certified tech for Aircraft Escape Systems (ejection seats).
Upon his death, I needed his military discharge records to be able to secure a military headstone for his grave. Looking at that document, I learned that Dad was part of the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squad. His place of entry was Baltimore Maryland (still working on figuring that detail out). His training occurred in Amarillo Texas. But the thing that stood out most to me was “Air Force Good Conduct Medal”. Although intrigued about this line item, it would take a couple of years for me to figure out where I could secure additional information.
If you would like (and have the rights to do so) to request the military records of a deceased family member, the link that you should follow is here: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records
I requested my Dad’s military records using the link above. It took a number of weeks to receive the packet but when I did…what a treasure trove of information! And, within those documents I found the Special Order G-10 letter in which Dad was awarded the AF Good Conduct Medal for exemplary behavior (See Below).
The Good Conduct Medal is one of the oldest military awards of the United States Armed Forces. The Air Force version was established in 1963; the Air Force Good Conduct Medal was temporarily discontinued from February 2006 to February 2009, followed by its subsequent reinstatement.
The criteria for a Good Conduct Medal are defined by Executive Orders 8809, 9323, and 10444. The Good Conduct Medal, each one specific to one of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, is currently awarded to any active duty enlisted member of the United States military who completes three consecutive years of “honorable and faithful service”. Such service implies that a standard enlistment was completed without any non-judicial punishment, disciplinary infractions, or court martial offenses. If a service member commits an offense, the three-year mark “resets” and a service member must perform an additional three years of service without having to be disciplined, before the Good Conduct may be authorized. During times of war, the Good Conduct Medal may be awarded for one year of faithful service. The Good Conduct Medal may also be awarded posthumously, to any service member killed in the line of duty.
The Air Force Good Conduct Medal is the last version of the Good Conduct Medal. The medal was authorized by Congress on 6 July 1960, but not created until 1 June 1963. Air Force personnel were issued the Army Good Conduct Medal between 1947 and 1963 and for those serving both before and after 1963, the Army and Air Force Good Conduct Medals could be worn simultaneously on an Air Force uniform.
The Air Force version is the same as the Army version, except that the suspension and service ribbons for the medals are different for each medal. The Air Force Good Conduct Medal has remained unchanged in appearance since its original design. Additional awards of the Air Force Good Conduct Medal are denoted by bronze or silver oak leaf clusters.
The criteria for award of the Air Force Good Conduct medal are as follows: It is awarded to Air Force enlisted personnel during a three-year period of active military service or for a one-year period of service during a time of war. Those airmen who were awarded this medal must have had character and efficiency ratings of excellent or higher throughout the qualifying period including time spent in attendance at service schools, and there must have been no convictions of court martial or non-judicial punishment during this period.
For more reading from the Air Force page, click HERE.
The medal was designed by Joseph Kiselewski. On the obverse is an American eagle with wings displayed and inverted, standing on a closed book and a Roman sword. Encircling this are the words “Efficiency, Honor, Fidelity” at the medal’s outer edge. The reverse has a five-pointed star above a blank scroll suitable for engraving the recipient’s name and above the star are the words, “For Good” and below the scroll “Conduct.” Is encircled by a wreath of laurel and oak leaves.
Dad’s Good Conduct Medal Award Date was March 1964. I pulled up eBay, typed in the requirements of what I was looking for and was pleased to find one available to purchase that was issued in 1964. I know this specific medal did not lay upon my Dad’s chest. However, holding it in the palm of my hand and knowing that Dad completed an issue-free service to his country – the pride was there all the same.
I encourage anyone who is curious about the smaller details of a parent’s military career to consider requesting their records from the National Archive. I have researched various aspects of his paperwork to have a greater knowledge (and pride) of what my Dad’s military career consisted of.
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