You’ve likely heard of army challenge coins and might even have seen some in the homes of your friends in the service. That said, most people aren’t familiar with their meaning.
We’re going to look at that meaning today, giving you some history and insight into why these coins are so important to those in the armed forces. The information below should offer a little appreciation for the tradition of challenge coins and prompt you to ask some questions the next time you see one.
Let’s get started.
What Are Army Challenge Coins?
The tradition of challenge coins started way back in World War One. At that time, various classes in the United States were still very separated. There wasn’t a lot of overlap between the lives of the haves and the have-nots.
All in It Together
When the war came around, though, that stratification couldn’t last. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor; what mattered was that you were serving the country.
In that spirit, rich soldiers were in squadrons with poor ones, and with that came an exciting collision of cultures. One particular airforce squadron was host to a wealthy man who brought a keepsake for all of his compatriots one day.
He brought enough gold coins for all of his men to hang onto. You can shop here to find the modern version of those famous challenge coins. The word about these coins spread, and it was well-known that men in that squadron possessed them.
The men in that group carried their coins with them as a point of pride.
Luck of Unique Challenge Coins
One of those men got shot down behind enemy lines in Germany.
He survived and was close to the French border, where he’d find safety. Unfortunately, he got captured by the Germans and held prisoner. Then, the disheveled structure he was being held in was bombed, and he escaped.
As he approached the border once again, he knew he’d need to cross no man’s land.
Army Medallions to the Rescue
Because he was coming from the German side, he was captured by the french and questioned. They weren’t sure he wasn’t a spy or just a German soldier dressed in United States uniform.
He would have been killed that day, except for one thing. A French soldier recognized his medallion and knew it to be one from the group of American soldiers.
It was unique enough that there was no doubt.
Since then, challenge medallions have been held as a piece of good luck. Service members often hold onto them through terrible experiences on the off chance that it will serve as the ticket for their lives.
Want to Learn More About Challenge Coins?
If army challenge coins are interesting to you, there’s a lot more to learn. The tradition of keeping challenge coins has existed since World War One, and they embody a lot of important history and culture.
We’re here to teach you about that history. Explore our site for more insight into challenge coins, military history, and a lot more.