There are a number of stories about the origin of the challenge coins. Until now, there are still only few proofs supporting the history of these coins. This reason makes it nearly impossible to certainly know how these coins came to be.
Although many organizations and services are claiming that they are the ones who started the tradition of the challenge coins, there is little doubt that these coins are of military origin. Based on the most acceptable story, the coins originated from a wealthy lieutenant who was deployed during the World War I.
Army Air Corps is a new trend in the military during World War I. These air corps assembled flying troops which were manned with young civilian volunteer pilots from different walks of life. Some are employees from different industries, while many of them were rich college students. These students withdrew from their prestigious colleges in the middle of the school year because of their eagerness to participate in a new type of warfare which they consider as a great opportunity for an exceptional adventure.
According to the legend, a wealthy lieutenant coming from the group of college students, ordered to create medallions struck in bronze which he then gave to each member of the flying squadron. He presented these medallions as symbols of their service together. Each medallion was plated with gold and had the squadron’s insignia on it. These coin-like medallions looks really valuable. One of the pilots who received this medallion placed it in a small leather pouch. Since this pilot never had something as precious as this medallion, he wore the pouch tied around his neck for safekeeping.
Soon after receiving the medallion, this pilot was captured by a German patrol when he was forced to land because his aircraft was badly damaged by ground fire. To prevent him from escaping, the German captors confiscated all his personal belongings including all his identification. Luckily, the captors were not able to notice the leather pouch tied around his neck. He was then transported for transfer to the permanent prisoner of combat facility. During this transport, the pilot grabbed the opportunity to escape and made his way to France.
Unfortunately, the French patrol thought he was one of the German spy dressed as civilian and immediately sentenced him to execution. The pilot had nothing left to prove his identity as all his belongings were previously confiscated by the Germans. In his desperation to prove his identity, the pilot presented the medallion to the French patrol. The unit insignia on his medallion was fortunately recognized by one of the French soldiers. This confirmed his identity and made his way back to his home unit.
As he safely return to his squad who also learned of what he had been through, they all believed that the medallion saved his life. Since then they all agreed to carry their medallions, known today as the challenge coins, all the time. To make sure that all members of the squadron complied with this agreement, the pilots would challenge one another to present the coin at any time. If the challenged pilot could not present the coin immediately, he must either buy a round of drinks that the challenger likes or do other forms of service for the ones who can produce their own military challenge coin. If you’re thinking about getting challenge coins then go through here www.challengecoins4less.com.
Nowadays, this challenge coin tradition continues and has reached the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. These challenge coins are mostly used as recognition for a special achievement or appreciation for being part of a military operation. Some coins also serve as an identification badge which proves a soldier’s military service within a particular unit.
Beyond the military, these coins serve various purposes to many different organizations. The police department, fire department, and many civic groups nowadays show their allegiance through having their own custom coins. Moreover, other challenge coins are also distributed to people as a form of publicity. Some may even use these coins as a fund-raising tool.