What The Appeal And Popularity Of Military And Other Challenge Coins Are All About

Each branch of the American armed forces participates in the tradition of military challenge coins. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air National Guard all have special challenge coins to represent their membership in their particular service branch.

Where the tradition all began is debatable, but some say it dates back to a young wealthy World War One pilot who commissioned the pile of brass medallions which he distributed to members of his fighter squadron as sentimental tokens of their experience together. Another tale has it that it was during World War Two in Germany, where American servicemen would meet at a pub and when challenged to present a German coin of low value, the last to do so would have to buy the drinks for all.

There are tales that during the Vietnam war, almost all of the men in combat carried these challenge tokens with them at all times as a form of identification as a member in his particular unit. The practice today is for men and women in the armed forces to be awarded special tokens from their commanding officers and medals of praise for jobs well done. Many have touted these tokens as more meaningful than any official form of praise or designation.

To some it may appear to be just a worthless round piece of metal. But to those who’ve earned them their meaning is far greater. They’re symbols, tokens, representations, something akin to a worry stone to clutch in times of great distress that war so often presents. They represent pride and loyalty, family and stick-togetherness. And once earned the rule prevails, the holder must carry it at all times to be presented upon challenge, or suffer a penalty.

As individual as the units of men and women who make up the armed forces, so too are the individualized coins that represent them and the experiences they’ve been designed to commemorate. Often depicting colorful images and emblems and containing troop mottos, they represent strength and unity for those who’ve earned them.

Gold, silver, copper, bronze — any number of metals can be used in minting. It’s happened that one commission instructed the mint to create a set using the metal from some equipment retrieved from a battle. Quite often it will be a significant event that inspires the creation and design of a coin, commemorating the event and forever reminding and bonding those who participated.

And it’s not only military personnel who take interest in this. Collectors of varied backgrounds have taken interest in the rich and meaningful history behind the stories of the sentimental tokens, and they trade and auction off pieces of their collections all over the world.

Many more organizations have taken to the idea and ideals which began with military challenge medallions. Groups such as Police and Firefighters, government agencies, and even enthusiasts of various hobbies and popular culture have minted challenge coins representing their own values and interests. Their purpose — as tokens of respect and brotherhood, of membership and belonging, as a source of comfort during difficult times — applies not just to members of the armed forces but to any and all who want incorporate the tradition as their own.

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The Elite Meaning Of Military Challenge Coins To Squadron Members.

Members of the armed forces comprise a unique and specialized group of individuals all dedicated to the same task. Their shared rigorous training and experiences help them form a solid bond. This shared cohesiveness is important for them to work together as a team despite the challenges of terrain, other forces and technological interruptions. A relatively new way they are showing this team spirit is through military challenge coins.

Military Esprit De Corps is famous, and it is important not just for the wellness of the unit during their off duty times. Unit cohesion has been a documented factor of troop performance since the sixth century before the birth of Christ. In early military battles, flags were used as a means of identifying which troops belonged to whom, and represented the loyalties of the disparate soldiers in the force.

A simple metal orb, carefully inscribed with the images representing the proud tradition o f a unit, has emerged as a new and increasingly popular way of demonstrating membership. Depending on the unit, some of these coins can be exceedingly difficult to earn, and their rarity is yet another of the reasons they are coveted. Increasingly, however, unit coins are being modified to acknowledge specific internal organizational associations, special qualifications, even participation in named operations or campaigns.

As a member of the armed forces continues on their career path, they will move from base to base and organization to organization with a sometimes dizzying rapidity. In between what is known as permanent stations, soldiers are frequently assigned temporarily to units in the field, or field units are stood up to accommodate specific needs, then retired when the need is gone. Even in forward operating locations it is not unusual to find the appearance the emblem distinctively reminding the soldier of his time there.

These coins have grown in popularity and are not an official part of the tradition pomp and circumstance of military heritage, but they may soon become a central part. General officers have coins with their names and commands on them to hand out during visits and inspections to those who distinguish themselves in performance. Contrary to popular misconception, formal military decorations are not handed out easily, and these coins are a way to acknowledge excellence that does no rise to the standards of formal decorations.

There are, as one might imagine with anything akin to a fraternity key or special emblem, rules for the possession and care of these treasures. Not usually set by pen to paper, they are simple instructions that members know intrinsically and abide by with no fear of enforcement, only peer pressure. With the monumental risks and dangers they deal with on a continuous basis, the discipline to follow this heritage is self enforced.

First, each individual should be carrying the coin that bears the image of his current unit, not base x, the previous station. The individual should be carrying tit with him ion his person at all times. The coin is to be respected, it must never be dropped, as doing so places the bearer in the position of having to buy a round of drinks for all who observed the misdemeanor.

When the commander is finished delineating the heroics of the recipient, the recipient faces the commander, salutes, and the two shake hands. The coin is in the shaking hand and possession of the coin is transferred. It is not as simple as one might imagine, and there is a very real possibility of dropping it, embarrassing both. Possibly to ensure great care is taken to avoid this, there is a consequence to dropping military challenge coins, you have to buy a round of drinks.

Get inside information on the very special significance of Military Challenge Coins now in our overview of all you need to know about unit coins .