What Are Military Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are coins that signify an occasion or membership of a group. They can be made from metals, including brass and bronze. A challenge coin possesses a design unique to the group it represents. Organizations that usually award challenge coins include fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and the military.

What Importance Does Challenge Coins Hold in the Military?

Challenge coins are important in the military. The challenge coins military officials hold in high esteem are considered a symbol of an individual’s morale and commitment. They usually represent the owner’s service and dedication in the military, which instills pride in their possessor. Among these precious keepsakes are the military police challenge coins.

In the military, these coins are awarded to people to honor their achievements. The “challenge” part of these coins refers to the challenge of keeping military members connected, which helps ensure that the meaningful bonds they create last a lifetime. 

Military challenge coins are also sometimes called medallions and are typically used to confirm a person’s allegiance. Also, persons in higher ranks in the military may have been awarded more than one coin. Those with military challenge coins sometimes display them alongside uniform ribbons and patches.

How Can You Differentiate Between Custom Military Challenge Coins and Other Challenge Coins?

Given that challenge coins come in various shapes and sizes, it may be hard to differentiate between military challenge coins and other challenge coins.

Custom military challenge coins are usually metals like nickel, bronze, and copper. They are pocket-sized, somewhat colorful, and circular. Sometimes, they also come in spades, pentagons, or dog tags.

Military challenge coins, which are usually about 0.1 inches thick, also have symbols, mottos, insignias, and emblems indicating their possessor’s office or unit.

What is the History of Military Challenge Coins?

Custom military challenge coins have many stories attributed to their origin. Some believe that the tradition of awarding these coins originates from coins awarded to a soldier in the Roman Empire to recognize his achievements. 

With regard to the US military, many believe that the practice began during World War I. Before America joined the war, volunteers from different parts of the country who enlisted in the army formed the Naval Air Service and the Army squadrons. 

The story continues:  a wealthy lieutenant from one squadron ordered custom military challenge coins to be made in solid bronze. After that, he awarded the coins to his unit members. 

Soon after receiving the medallion, a pilot from this particular unit was captured by Germans after his aircraft was damaged extensively. The Germans confiscated his means of identification, leaving him with only his medallion. 

The pilot managed to escape and reached the front lines. However, the lack of personal identification made it hard to differentiate between squadron members and saboteurs. The brave soldier would have been executed if it were not for the medallion.  

This tradition of awarding coins was passed on in the military. Today it is mainly used to recognize an individual and their accomplishments and serve as a token of gratitude or appreciation.

To learn more about military challenge coins, or purchase coins, contact Lone Star Challenge Coins.

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