Today, I’d like to share some history of the Army Challenge Coin. In the military, the challenge coin is a prized possession. After doing some research online, I found one source that said the challenge coins first entered the service around WW2. The first (recorded) unit to create their own challenge coin was used by the Office of Strategic Service Personnel in Nazi, Germany. Initially, the coins were used to help identify a person’s identity. The coins helped prevent spies and enemies from infiltrating secret meetings.
Another online source says that challenge coins date back to WW1 when a rich Lieutenant had lots of solid bronze coins made up for the people he served with. Apparently one of the pilots he served with crashed his fighter plane and had his challenge coin wrapped around his neck (on a string). He became a POW with the Germans. Later on, he used the coin to identify himself as an American, when being rescued by the French. According to the story, the coin is what he used to prove that he was an American. Ultimately, the coin saved his life and kept him from being executed by the French.
Moreover, in the 1950s, the 10th Special Forces Group created their own challenge coin. From what I found online, they were one of the only Army units to have their own challenge coins, up until the 1980s.
Of course, I cannot personally validate any of these three stories about the history of the challenge coin. But they all do prove that the challenge coin dates back somewhere from 60 to 100 years!
Since then, the role of the Army Challenge coin has evolved. In modern times, the challenge coin is used to reward soldiers for specific achievements. In most Battalion Sized units and higher the Commander and Sergeant Major have a challenge coin for their unit. Often times, the challenge coins have the commander and Sergeant Major’s names on the coin. Sometimes the coins are serial numbered too.
Most of these challenge coins are unique, beautiful and collectible. With each coin, there is a story and a proud tradition. When a soldier receives a coin, he/she is expected to carry it with them at all times. In the event someone “challenges them,” they must take out the coin or buy the other person a beer (or do push-ups or something else).
There you have it. Now you know the history of the Army Challenge Coin! Do you have any neat Challenge Coin stories? If you have something to add, just leave a comment to this post to share your thoughts. Also, if you have any questions about the Army Challenge Coin, you can post it below and I will attempt to provide an answer. Thanks and have a great day.