What is a military challenge coins?


Seeing this title, many readers of Zhanjia.com may say that they don’t even know what “challenge coins” are or how they are used in the modern army. In fact, challenge coins are very common in many fields. Some domestic military fans who love military collections also have many physical collections of challenge coins. In fact, the five major branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, federal and state law enforcement agencies, and fire departments have a long tradition of using such coins. These coins usually carry the logo or motto of the production unit, representing the unit’s overall image and even its core values. And often exchange, display and collect among unit members, instilling a sense of pride from collective honor to the winners.

"A story about the source of challenge coins"

The historical roots of the "challenge coin" can be traced back to the Roman Empire's generals by giving coins to reward soldiers for their achievements. The use in the US military probably originated from World War I. The most well-known story about challenge coins comes from an American fighter pilot who was shot down and landed on hostile German territory during World War I. The pilot was captured and held in a temporary detention center, but soon he had a chance to escape because of the British bombing. Wearing civilian clothing, he successfully avoided the German patrol and reached the front line, ventured across the no man's land, and found a French outpost. Since spies and saboteurs have been haunting the French, the French thought he was a saboteur and prepared to shoot him. Before the execution, he showed the executioner the only personal item he was carrying-a challenge coin from his squadron. A French soldier recognized the US military badge on the challenge coin, so they suspended the execution and finally confirmed The true identity of the American pilot. In the end, a bottle of French wine replaced the bullet that was originally intended for him. All this is due to the challenge coin he brought.


"Challenge coins developed to this day"

Today, the popularity of the challenge coin has developed into a symbol of the American military, and it is widely used in active, retired and civilian military service. Throughout a soldier's career, it will be possible to encounter and obtain a lot of challenge coins. For example, this year the U.S. Air Force Academy held a graduation commemorative challenge coin ceremony for its students upon graduation. All graduates received a specially made challenge coin. At the same time, the challenge coin is also used as a sign of welcome and respect to VIPs and special guests by units or senior officials. William Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama, and the current President Donald Trump all have examples of giving challenge coins to guests and diplomats visiting the White House. President Trump also released a new commemorative challenge coin before the 2018 nuclear summit between North Korea and the United States in Singapore.

"Evolving Challenge Coin Culture"

The American challenge coin culture has expanded to other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Some Chinese military departments have also produced similar challenge coins, but it is customary for Chinese people to call him "commemorative coins." The earliest known challenge coin is a simple brass coin, the logo and text are almost indistinguishable today. Today's military challenge coins have evolved from a seemingly simple design to more complex and colorful varieties, mainly due to the advancement of manufacturing technology that has been perfected over the years. More and more unit leaders have realized that a small, personalized challenge coin can build unity between teams and at the same time boost the morale of the entire unit. But not everyone in the government and the military likes the idea of challenging coins. The current US Secretary of Defense James Mattis (James Mattis) visited the front line when he was asked if he would bring challenge coins to soldiers who inspected the troops. At the time, he said very directly-"No, I am saving money for the bombs we need".

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