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This thread is dedicated to the posting of pictures and stories related to challenge coins. So, post a pic and share the story of your special challenge coin(s)...

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A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (usually, but not always military), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. In addition, they are also collected by service members. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit. They are also exchanged in recognition of visits to an organization.

There are several stories detailing the origins of the challenge coin. According to the most common story, challenge coins originated during World War I. American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilots' aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification. He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land.

Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner - a challenger would ask to see the medallion. If the challenged could not produce a medallion, they were required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued on throughout the war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

According to another story, challenge coins date back to the second world war and were first used by Office of Strategic Service personnel who were deployed in Nazi held France. The coins were simply a local coin used as a "Bona Fides" during a personal meeting to help verify a person's identity. There would be specific aspects such as type of coin, date of the coin, etc. that were examined by each party. This helped prevent infiltration into the meeting by a spy who would have to have advance knowledge of the meeting time and place as well as what coin was to be presented, amongst other signals, as bona fides.

The very first unit in the US Military known to have a coin was the oldest Special Forces Unit in the US Army. The 10th Special Forces Group, more commonly referred to as the Green Berets, were founded at Prinz Heinrich Kaserne in Lengries Germany in 1952 by Colonel Aaron Banks, himself a former OSS operative.
 

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Criminal Investigation Task Force ( CITF )

Latin translates to "Formidable Hunter"





 

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Operation Enduring Freedom

October 7, 2001-ongoing...

Joint Task Force 170 out of GITMO ( Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba )...

Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) is a U.S. military joint task force based at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba on the southeastern end of the island. JTF-GTMO falls under US Southern Command. Since around 2002 the unit has operated the Guantanamo Bay detention camps Camp X-Ray and its successors Camp Delta, Camp V, and Camp Echo where there are detained prisoners captured in the war in Afghanistan after the September 11th, 2001 attacks.





 

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Very impressive set you have there Shooter, you ARE big brother ;)
 

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I was given one challenge coin, an 82nd Airborne Division coin, which my ex-wife has, along with my battalion coin (313th Military Intelligence Battalion (CEWI)(Airborne), deactivated in 2006) and the Army Airborne wings that were pinned on me at US Army Basic Airborne Course.

Our battalion was having an IG inspection. We failed the in-ranks inspection, barracks inspection, and my company NBC room. I was the unit armorer of my company, and was to be the first arms room to be inspected. I didn't go home for several days preparing for the inspection. Immediately after my inspection, I went to the other arms rooms to make sure everyone was ready, and all of the armorers worked together to make it happen. It was acknowledged that because of me we passed as a battalion, and I actually received an Army Commendation Medal for it....but the Division coin that my First Sergeant gave me meant a helluva lot more than the medal.

I know that it really sounds like I care about it, my ex- having it and all. Well, I'd rather walk barefoot through fire than deal with that [email protected]#$%^&*(). My sons will get them, which is cool. Hopefully, I'll get to pin the wings on my son someday. He had given up on trying to get to jump school, but has decided to try to get there again after getting back from Afghanistan. He leaves in a couple of weeks.

I do have a Division coin that I carry at all times that I bought.

My son has a coin from Gen Petraeus and one from Sec of Def Gates, my grandson a coin from the 82nd Airborne Division commander. I'm not jealous a bit, one from my favorite 1SG is just fine lol.
 

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Not in the service, but I was in JROTC. Our SAI (senior army instructor), CSM Mathers, gave coins to his "favorite" cadets.



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I'll see if I can get a pic of my brothers coin he got while serving in Iraq from SecDef.
 

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Thanks for the input BW !!
That is the only gifted one to me, but I have done more at home, will post pics later.
Pentagon, NRA, US Capital, White House...
 

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Here are the other Pics...


Pentagon, NRA, US Capital, White House.
 

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The additional coins are very nice BW...I like the 2nd Amendment and NRA ones.
 

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I became a member of SAR (requires verification of an ancestor who served in the War for Independence - on OUR side), but I'm no longer active (dues paying).

 

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The additional coins are very nice BW...I like the 2nd Amendment and NRA ones.
Thank you, go them all from their respective places when I toured them. (except the NRA/2nd Amendment Coin, that was a custom one that was never picked up at the pentagon, I bought it for a steal!!!)

I have another really small unique one too, hang on…
 

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image-4234505723.jpg



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From the Star Spangled Banner Exhibit at the Smithsonian.

And this National Guard one I forgot I had...



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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I became a member of SAR (requires verification of an ancestor who served in the War for Independence - on OUR side), but I'm no longer active (dues paying).
Very interesting Doc...tell us about your ancestor !
 
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