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If you’ve been within the army or worked for the Defense Department, you recognize what a challenge coin is. They’ve been an American navy tradition for a century, meant to instill unit pride, enhance esprit de corps and reward hard work and excellence.


The cash signify anything from a small unit to the offices of top leaders, such as the protection secretary. There are additionally coins made for special events, anniversaries and even nonmilitary leaders.

Many service members and veterans proudly show challenge coins at their desks or houses, showing off the various missions they’ve been on, the highest leaders they’ve met and the models for which they’ve worked.

However how to make a challenge coin rack (challengecoins4u.net) did this tradition get began?

I used to be curious, so I checked with the National Protection University, Pentagon librarians and historians, as well as these with the U.S. Military Center of Army History and the Naval History and Heritage Command. Those establishments couldn’t find any written records, in all probability because the challenge coin tradition didn’t start as an officially sanctioned activity. So I dove into the trendy-day oral hitales of the world – often known as the internet – to see what I might find.

The Most Frequent Fantasy
The most well-known story that the internet produced linked the problem coin tradition back to World War I. As the U.S. started building up its Army Air Service, many men volunteered to serve. A kind of men was a rich lieutenant who wanted to provide each member of his unit a memento, so he ordered a number of coin-sized bronze medallions to be made.

The lieutenant put his own medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore around his neck. A short while later, his airplane was shot down over Germany. He survived but was captured by a German patrol, who took all of his identifiable gadgets so he would don't have any approach to determine himself if he escaped. What they didn’t take was the small pouch with the medallion.

The lieutenant was taken to a small city close to the front lines of the war. Regardless of his lack of ID, he managed to find some civilian clothing and escaped anyway, finally stumbling right into a French outpost. Wary of anyone not in uniform, the French soldiers didn’t acknowledge his accent and instantly assumed he was an enemy.

They initially planned to execute him, since they couldn’t ID him. However the lieutenant, remembering he still had the small pouch round his neck, pulled out the coin to show the soldiers his unit’s insignia. One of many Frenchmen acknowledged that insignia, so he was spared.


Instead of being executed, the lieutenant was given a bottle of wine, most likely as a type of reparation for his preliminary treatment. When he lastly made it back to his squadron, it turned a tradition for all service members to hold a unit-emblazoned coin at all times, just in case.

Not Everyone Believes That Depiction
While that story sounds cool, Air Force Historical Analysis Agency archivist Barry Spink isn’t buying it.

He mentioned he’d been told in the 1990s that the tradition started in Vietnam, when an Army infantry-run bar tried to maintain non-squaddies away by forcing "outsiders" to buy drinks for the whole bar if they couldn’t prove they had been in combat. The "proof" began with enemy bullets, then obtained a bit out of control with grenades, rockets and unexploded ordnance. So a coin-sized item emblazoned with the unit’s insignia became the accepted form of proof.
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