Military challenge coins are also identified as military coins, unit coins, memorial, unit challenge and commander’s coin. They stand as proof of membership, support and patronage of the bearer. Specially minted military coins were expected to raises self-respect and endorse unit sprit. They are used to show respect and to honor service members for their hard work. The military challenge coin is a prized and esteemed symbol of the establishment.
Military coins originated during First World War. Air warfare was a new concept during that time. Volunteer pilots from all walks of population streamed in to the flying squadrons created by the army. Most of them consisted of rich students who left their studies for the adventure and romance associated with the new method of warfare.
One such student was so impressed with the whole thing that he distributed gold plated bronze medals to everyone in the squadron. The act was intended to keep the memories of their days together. The challenge coin was engraved with the emblem of the squadron and was a bit pricey.
One of the pilots in the war, who was a rich American, put the coin in a leather pouch and wore it around his neck. During the course of war the young pilot was captured and was removed of his belongings. The coin somehow missed their attention. British bombed the town creating great confusion. In the confusion the pilot escaped. A French patrol was seeking out German saboteurs in disguise. The pilot was found by them and they decided to execute him.
Desperate to prove his identity, the pilot took his coin and presented it before them. Luckily for him one among them recognized the emblem and the pilot managed to escape death. He returned to his squadron safely. His return set up a new tradition in the military. Members began to carry their military challenge coins with them always. They challenged to show the coin among themselves in order to make sure every one was complying with the tradition.
The practice of using Challenge coins spread to all areas besides the military. Now many organizations and groups make use of challenge-coins to boost the morale of the members. Challenge coins are used to show tribute to members on special occasions. They are also sold as fund raisers. The coin represents the loyalty and acts as a proof of identity for members of different organizations.