Military Challenge Coins

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a display of military challenge coins in the Salute to Our Services gallery of the museum. This unique collection includes a challenge coin from a 4-Star Admiral in charge of the US Navy fleet, central command and other notable military figures and heroes. A Look at Military Challenge Coins Much like military insignia, military challenge coins, dating as far back as WWI and WWII, are a part of every military branch and are specific to each particular unit, bearing their motto and insignia. More importantly, the coin reflects their patriotic essence and symbolizes the pride with which they serve (or have served) their country. The origination of the coins is still somewhat sketchy with most believing it originated in the Army Air Corps. Though the origination of this long standing tradition is sketchy, the challenge behind these military challenge coins is still very much alive. The various military branches, and even the units within these branches, often have different challenges. The purpose behind the challenge, however, does not waiver – it is to ensure the individual carries on the tradition of always carrying his military challenge coin. According to custom, a challenge is permitted at any time. One of the most frequently used challenges begins with the challenger tapping his coin either on a bar, or on a table. If all present can produce their coin, the challenger must buy a drink for all. Any many not producing the coin, must buy a round for everyone who does. In general, the holder of the coin will keep it always readily...

Did the Military Challenge Coin Originate During WWI or WWII?

While the question cannot be accurately answered, many wonder, “Did the military challenge coin originate during WWI or WWII?”  Be it fact or urban legend, one source for the military challenge coin does in fact date this tradition back to World War I.  The story involves a young wealthy college student who, like many young men from all walks of life, was drawn to the war when the Army began their flying squadrons.  The story says this young man had small gold-plated, bronze medallions struck bearing the insignia of their squadron.  He presented a coin to each of the pilots in his squadron as a token to commemorate their service together in the war. The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has several unique military challenge coins on display in Salute to the Armed Forces area of the museum.  One of the most prestigious among this collection came from a 4 Star Admiral in charge of the U.S. Navy Pacific fleet.  One of the pilots, after receiving this medallion, placed in a leather pouch he carried around his neck.  Within a brief period of time, this pilot was forced to land his aircraft behind enemy lines and was captured by the German’s.  He was stripped of all his personal belongings – including his ID. The Germans did not, however, take his leather pouch.  As he was escorted to a prisoner of war camp, an overnight stay in a French village secured by the Germans, gave him a much needed break.  That evening, the British attacked the town creating enough diversion, allowing him to escape.  He found civilian attire...