Military challenge coins are a specialist area of military memorabilia well-known to you if you have served in the military or are a family member of a service member. There is a long tradition of U.S. Military challenge coins being made and handed to service members as a sign of providing excellent service. The U.S. Secretary of Defense can create challenge coins and most military leaders hand them on to the members of the organizations they work with, according to Custom Challenge Coins.
No certain history
There is no certain first challenge coin handed out by members of the military around the world but the tradition may have reached the U.S. military from the Ancient Roman Empire. The Romans would pay their soldiers after they achieved success in certain battles with many generals in the Roman Army looking to provide their members with a bonus in the form of a special coin. Mental Floss reports these bonus coins were often imprinted with the name of the general giving it out or with the insignia of the legion that had been fighting. Rather than spend their bonus payment, the majority of soldiers would collect their coins as a memento.
The U.S. Military origins
In the U.S. military, there is a long tradition of the use of challenge coins that can be enjoyed by members of the various arms of the services. Within the U.S. Military, the first challenge coins are thought to have been created by a squadron leader in an early air force wing. The pilot wanted to give each member of the squadron and set off on missions into enemy territory. After being shot down over France, the myth states the pilot was left with no identification apart from the challenge coin he carried in a leather punch around his neck. After his escape, the pilot was accused of being an enemy spy by French resistance fighters who only believed he was an American pilot after seeing his challenge coin.
Challenge Coins are now commonly given
A challenge coin is now one of the most popular mementos for members of the U.S. military who want to receive some form of collectible for their work on a mission, project, or with a specific unit. Almost every branch of the military produces challenge coins that can be collected or traded after they have now become quite valuable. Challenge Coins remain popular and are often traded by members of the military and collectors who can find many different ways of purchasing or trading coins online and at fairs.