Military Challenge Coin

Ohmigod ohmigod I was given a coin today! Understand, in February 1995 I was in an Army training event. Through enlightened use of my equipment, I shut down a TRAINING mixed forces combat exercise, scheduled to last 3 days, in15 minutes. My battalion commander was pleased. He came round to my site and gave out coins to all present, as it was a team victory, even though the execution was mine. I was not present, ironically, as I had duties elsewhere at the moment. It always made me a little sad, but that’s life, ya? I still took a commendation medal so I was cool enough with it.

But today, at a work function, I was handed, from a Vietnam Marine combat vet, a Marine coin. I (Me!) nearly fainted. Holy crap, I dont think I’ve been this proud. Ever. And just six weeks before my own son ships out to begin the same line of work as I did.

So, uh, tell me about yours?

My two favorites are one from GEN Tommy Franks in 2001 for preparing his security detail for rapid deployment, and the other is from GEN David Petraeus presented to me at Sadam’s former palace in 2008. I’ve got a full shelf of them, but those are my favorites.

My favorite is when I visited [REDACTED] in [REDACTED] and got a coin from [REDACTED] commander. He took a few minutes to explain all the symbolism on the coin.

The most interesting point is that if you add up the [REDACTED] then you get to the number of [REDACTED]. Someone could stare at the coin for days an not make the connection. And, of course, I can’t point it out to anyone, but for sure this will be a family heirloom.

I remember that place. They have a good Grean Beans, buy the wifi sucks. There’s no [REDACTED], but it’s okay because you can just order [REDACTED] from [REDACTED] and they’ll deliver it straight to the [REDACTED].

Did you meet [REDACTED] when you were there? I’ve heard he’s work there for [REDACTED] years.

Uhh, can we get the story of how the OP shut down a three-day exercise in 15 minutes? (And he has permission to stretch facts a bit to make the tale more dramatic.)

When did coins become a thing?

They’ve been documented back to at least World War One.

Thanks, Little Nemo. I also just found that there’s a Wikipedia page for that — Challenge Coin.

Roman Mars did a nice podcast about challenge coins 2 years ago when Trump revealed his.

I’ve got like 6 of them. They sit at my desk. I guess I just don’t get the culture of them

I have 7, and not a single one came from my actual military service.

Our motorcycle club raises funds all year to personally deliver to a Wounded Warrior Barracks. The first 7 years, the guy in charge (usually a Major) would hand out challenge coins. Sadly, the conflict has lasted long enough for Wounded Warrior pocket tokens to be minted yearly. I have 3 of those.

When my brother graduated from the academy, USAFA, I attended in uniform and pinned his bars on. Since I was enlisted I popped him his first-ever salute. That’s when I learned of the tradition that these new 2nd Lieutenants give a silver dollar to whoever gives them their first salute. Since my brother knew it was going to be me, and he graduated in 1986, he’d gotten an 1886 dollar for the occasion. Nice touch.

Other than my brother’s silver dollar, and yes the academy tradition which I do understand, I don’t get the general coins culture either.

Signal intercept & jamming was my role. Some novel application of good radio equipment, lots of coffee and notebook paper, a bit of luck, and a plan that came together. Afraid I really can’t give much more detail than that without a bunch of redactions. Unstretched facts that certainly helped include a case of MRE, 10 pounds of ice, and a M2 Bradley crew that was somehow convinced my equipment was worth protecting for a few minutes.

Sure, that’s a good story. But did I tell you about the time that I fixed a printer with a paperclip, a pushpin, and a lighter? Got that powerpoint slideshow hardcopy to the General with seconds to spare!

Well I hope he gave you a great low rate.