Military Coin Basics and Legends

Many of us have seen or heard of a military coin, also known as a “challenge coin” but few of us know the rich history that military coins possess. The modern day challenge coin is used as a way to honor men and women who have served in the military, as well as first responders and other emergency workers. Military coins represent brotherhood and are meant to unite a unit as one. The roots of military coins run deep – and their backstory is one of heroism, courage and a twist of luck that led to survival against all odds.

The History of the Air Force Coin

Challenge coins began to grow in popularity after World War I. According to historians, the importance of challenge coins began like this: an American fighter pilot was shot down during World War I and forced to land in a hostile German territory. The pilot was soon captured and held in a prison camp. That camp was later attacked by British Forces, during which time the American soldier escaped. After his escape, the American soldier was confronted by French troops, who presumed he was a German, pretending to be American to avoid death. The soldier pleaded with the French commander and then had an idea. In his pocket was a challenge coin that he had received from his lieutenant, which he held dear to his heart. The coin contained information about his American unit, as well as the unit’s insignia and other details that identified him as an American soldier. The French officer immediately recognized the insignia on the challenge coin and the American soldier’s life was spared. The story traveled far and wide, and military challenge coins began to explode in popularity.

Modern Day Challenge Coins

Now challenge coins are used in all branches of the military. Air Force coins, Army coins, Navy coins, as well as challenge coins for the Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard are very popular. Military coins have evolved beyond a mark of representation for members of the military. Challenge coins are traded among active-duty, retired or wounded military personnel. War veterans receive challenge coins to honor their bravery. Three presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all minted challenge coins that are presented to honored White House guests, as well as diplomats of foreign countries. Other countries, such as Canada, the UK and Australia have adopted challenge coins as a way to honor members of the military. Outside of the military, domestic heroes are also being honored. Police officers, EMTs, firefighters and first responders are presented with challenge coins to recognize their bravery and heroism. Modern day challenge coins have also gotten a bit of a “makeover” and have come a long way from their simple die-struck beginnings. Now challenge coins can be manufactured in a fashion that allows 3-D imagery, as well as full-color. The results are stunning.

Where to Buy Military Challenge Coins

If you are looking to buy military challenge coins, contact Phoenix Challenge Coins, a leading designer and retailer of high-quality military coins. To design and buy military coins that you’ll be proud to pass on, please visit Phoenix Challenge Coins website to get started.