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Air Force officials reinstate Good Conduct Medal

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials have announced the reinstatment of the Good Conduct Medal for exemplary service by enlisted Airmen, here Feb. 11.

Reinstatement of the medal is effective Feb. 11, officials said.

The Air Force Uniform Board announced on Feb. 6, 2006, that the Good Conduct Medal would no longer be awarded. It was thought at the time that the award wasn't needed because nearly all Air Force members are exemplary performers. Previous awardees were permitted to wear the medal.

Meanwhile, the other armed services continued to award Good Conduct Medals to their enlisted members, said Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, chief of the Air Force's manpower, personnel and services directorate.

Airmen -- who often serve in war zones alongside their Army, Navy, and Marine Corps counterparts as part of the joint-force team -- also deserve recognition for their good service, General Newton said.

"Airmen are striving to do the very same thing that their battle buddies are doing in other services," the three-star general said.

Award of the Good Conduct Medal to deserving Airmen, General Newton said, also is part of the Air Force's illustrious heritage.

The idea to reinstate the Good Conduct Medal surfaced during an awards and decorations meeting on Jan. 7, 2008. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley signed off on the change on Nov. 22.

Airmen generally are eligible to earn the Good Conduct Medal if they exhibit exemplary behavior over a three-year period. The award features a sky-blue ribbon with two vertical red, white and blue stripes. Suspended from the ribbon is a round, golden medal featuring the image of an eagle, around which are inscribed the words, "Efficiency," "Honor" and "Fidelity."

Subsequent awards of the medal are represented by a "cluster" device.

After reintroduction of the Good Conduct Medal was approved, time was required to work out administrative procedures, said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley, the Air Force's top noncommissioned officer. Qualified Airmen, Chief McKinley said, will receive the award retroactively to 2006.

Some Airmen felt that the discontinuance of the Good Conduct Medal was an act of "taking something away" from them, he said.

"This is an enlisted medal," Chief McKinley said, "and we are taking care of the enlisted force."