Challenge Coin Thread

Discussion in 'Law Enforcement & Military' started by SHOOTER13, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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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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    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012
  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    Here is one from my 35 years with the DoD...


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    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012

  3. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    Criminal Investigation Task Force ( CITF )

    Latin translates to "Formidable Hunter"


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  4. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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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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    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  5. threetango

    threetango Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Had some interesting encounters in 20 years.
    I was an Airborne/Pathfinder

    Definition for those who may not be familiar with this term.
    A pathfinder is a paratrooper who is inserted or dropped into place in order to set up and operate drop zones, pickup zones, and helicopter landing sites for airborne operations, air resupply operations, or other air operations in support of the ground unit commander.

    Here's my collection.

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    These 4 are 101st Airborne, 1/245 Special Ops Aviation (Lords of Darkness), Special Ops Command Pacific, 160th SOAR (Nightstalkers)

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    These 3 pretty much speak for themselves.

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  6. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    Awesome 3tango...!!
     
  7. chuckusaret

    chuckusaret Member

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    I only have two, one from the 101st Abn and one from the 187th RCT, but they are in the attic.
     
  8. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    I'm sure that you are proud of them, and more importantly...

    what they represent Chuck !
     
  9. chuckusaret

    chuckusaret Member

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    Yes, as I am sure you are of yours. Hopefully after we are gone our kids will cherish them as we have. I have a complete dress blue uniform that has been hanging in my closet for the past 35 years that I sometimes look at, and think to myself, boy those were the days. :D
     
  10. threetango

    threetango Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Chuck, next time someone goes in the attic have them bring down the coins. I'd especially like to see the 187th Regimental Combat Team coin.
     
  11. JLBIII

    JLBIII Junior Member

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    My Father worked for the Dept. of Defense for 20 years after he retired from the Navy. He was a quality control inspector and traveled all over the country for his job. He has a few of the DoD challenge coins. I also have a DoD coin that was given to me when I was in the security business. I had installed a bunch of biometric numeric access systems in one of their buildings along with a full security and fire alarm system. I was there about 6 months installing it all and they gave me the coin in appreciation of all my hard work. It also helped that I was a veteran and a few of the guys knew my father.


    Joe
     
  12. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    You were Coast Guard, right Joe ?!

    Semper Paratus is their motto..."Always Ready"
     
  13. JLBIII

    JLBIII Junior Member

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    Yes I was. 85-89

    Joe
     
  14. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    Thank you for your service to our great country Joe !!
     
  15. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    UNITED STATES 228TH ARMY BIRTHDAY IN 2003...


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  16. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    UNITED STATES ARMY JAG ( JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL ) SCHOOL...


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  17. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM...

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  18. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM....


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  19. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    VETERAN OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM...

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  20. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

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    49TH FIGHTER WING (MISSION SUPPORT )...

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