Challenge coins have been around for a very long time and are currently being used by different sectors, mostly by the military or the defense sector. Along with medals and awards, a challenge coin bears great significance for the owner. Members of the United States military have a long standing tradition of carrying these coins as a symbol of brotherhood and unit identity. A challenge coin will usually have the organization’s symbol or emblem and is usually presented to the member by someone with ranking authority as recognition for their services and achievements.
Custom Challenge Coinsin History
No one knows exactly when challenge coins first came to be. In fact, there are a lot of stories revolving around its wonderful origins. The most common story is about a young World War I pilot who carried his medallion unit minted specifically for their air squadron by their lieutenant. Shortly after he got his medallion, his plane crashed behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by German soldiers. He was stripped of all his personal identification, save for his squad medallion, and taken to a French town. One night, in the middle of a bombardment, he escaped. Eventually, he was able to avoid all German patrols to reach the front lines, and with great difficulty, crossed No-Man’s Land. Unfortunately, he did not have any proof of his identity as a United States pilot. The French outpost who found him thought that he was a saboteur and prepared to execute him. Fortunately, one of his French captors recognized the emblem on his medallion, stalling the execution long enough to properly identify him. And instead of an execution, he got a bottle of wine.
After this incident, it became mandatory for a military unit’s members to carry their squadron coin at all times. Challenge coins became even more popular during the Vietnam War. The Special Forces minted coins to express their unit’s unique identity and the strong brotherhood that has been formed within the unit. Other units had their own challenge coins minted as a means to build camaraderie and to symbolize the pride of being a part of an elite group of soldiers.
A challenge coin is not just a token. Today, they are a source of pride among the soldiers of the United States military at every level of its chain of command. Some commanders also use them for on-the-spot rewards. Senior military members hand out challenge coins as gifts to foreign diplomats or civilian VIPs.Most importantly, a challenge coin is supposed to be carried at all times by every member of the military. Coin checks are pretty much still a part of being in the military. It even carries a penalty for those who are found without their coin. In fact, some of those penalties include buying drinks for the whole squad.
Its popularity has now even spread to people outside of the military. Today, several minting companies have started selling old collectible and custom challenge coins.
There are a lot of people who are fond of custom challenge coins, either as a souvenir or as their organization’s own personal emblem. For example, a businessman can give out custom challenge coins to exemplary employees as acknowledgement of their hard work. While compensation is also important for your employees, giving them a special commemorative coin along with the monetary reward to give them the morale boost to continue along their path of success.
Custom challenge coins are pretty easy and inexpensive to make. You can even use gold, silver, or any metallic alloy finish on your custom challenge coinsto make it even more special.