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Good Guardsmen Wear Clasps

New Jersey Good Conduct Medal

New Jersey Good Conduct Ribbon with clasps.

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- For those who have spent their entire careers in the Air Force, communicating with members of the other services can be as difficult as ordering a pineapple pizza in Istanbul. The Navy and Marines have a language all their own; at least the Army and Air Force speak a similar language, as it wasn't long ago they wore the same uniform. Another of those similarities is the Good Conduct Medal. For 15 years after the Air Force's founding, Airmen were still awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal until the Air Force version was established in 1963 by then Secretary of the Air Force, Eugene M. Zuckert.

The name 'Good Conduct' is where the similarities end. Aside from the obvious difference in appearance between the Army red and Air Force blue, is the difference in appurtenances. What? Appurtenance is a fancy French word for the attachments you affix to your ribbons such as the oak leaf clusters, stars, and numerals. Rather than oak leaf clusters, the Army uses clasps or, as they are sometimes called, loops or knots to denote subsequent awards.

New Jersey has a Good Conduct Ribbon that is awarded for any period of three years within a period of five years. The regulation, among other criteria, says it "may be awarded to an enlisted member of the NJOM who has demonstrated fidelity through faithful and exact performance of duty." What does that mean exactly? From the regulation:
(1) Attendance at 95 percent of all training assemblies and annual training periods.
(2) Favorable completion of the physical fitness tests and weight control standards.
(3) Favorable completion of all service schools.

Despite the fact that you are in the Air National Guard, you wear a blue uniform and have never heard of clasps before, you will wear clasps on your NJGCR. So says the god of all awards, not really, just DD200.61 New Jersey's State Awards manual, which you can easily find on the web by Google searching "New Jersey national guard awards." Like many other awards, the first award of the NJGCR is without appurtenances. Here's where it gets tricky. The second award will have two bronze clasps, third award, three clasps, fourth, four and the fifth, five. The sixth through tenth will have silver clasps and the 11th through fifteenth will have gold clasps.

Wear your ribbons with pride; you earned them. In this article you learned to speak a fancy French word and some Army. Next month we'll deal with the wear of state awards depending on your title status.