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History of the Challenge Coin

During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in midterm to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze carrying the squadron emblem for every member of his squadron. He himself carried his medallion in a small leather sack around his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallions, this pilot's aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German Patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night he donned civilian clothes and escaped. However, he was without personal identification.

He succeeded in avoiding German patrols and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land. Eventually, he stumbled into a French outpost. Unfortunately, the French in this sector of the front had been plagued by saboteurs. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. Just in time, he remembered his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners. His French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion and delayed long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back with his squadron, it became a tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through a challenge in the following manner, a challenger would ask to see the coin, if he challenger could not produce his coin, he was required to purchase a drink of choice for he member who had challenged him. If the challenged member produced his coin, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued throughout the war and for many years after while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

For-The-Good-Of-The-Order:   Organizational, ceremonial, personal, commemorative and limited minting – Coins come in all shapes, sizes, minting and availability.  When creating a new challenge coin, think about the possibilities.  Some are minted in limited addition, making them more meaningful and rare.  It is up to the organization to maintain control, keep records of minting and if presented honorably to honor distinguished visitors, record such presentations.  It is customary when creating a coin for an organization to make it generally available for “membership”.   Folks that want to partake in the validation of the order of the organization, except that organizational token for play.

Presidents, senior cabinet members, foreign governments, heads of state, throughout the armed services, fraternal, community and novel organizations, “coining” continues to grow.  They have traveled into battle, around the globe, to the bottom of the worlds oceans and have circled our great planet in space.  They have been permanently welded in the keels of great vessels, left at great monuments around the world and have remained in the pockets of those that have journeyed beyond.

"Coin Check" Rules

1.       The challenge is initiated by drawing your coin, holding it in the air by whatever means possible and state, scream, shout or otherwise verbally acknowledge that you are initiating a coin check.  Another, but less vocal method is to firmly place it on the bar, table, or floor (this should produce an audible noise which can be easily heard by those being challenged, but try not to leave a permanent imprint). If you accidentally drop your coin and it makes an audible sound upon impact, then you have just "accidentally" initiated a coin check.

a.       Suffocation – Do not leave your coin in the wrapper or plastic that it came in

b.      Abuse of the Organizational object – Be careful not to damage your coin

c.       Control – When making the challenge, always keep your coin safely within your immediate possession and control

2.       Individual's) challenged must respond by showing their Coin with their own unit’s logo to the challenger within a reasonable amount of time.

a.       If an organization has formally presented a coin to an “outsider” of the organization, it is the honorary tradition of meeting the hosting unit with that to which they have presented – Always carry with you when visiting, that token honorable to the organization that presented it

3.       If you are challenged and are unable to properly respond, it is customary to buy a round of beverages for those that did respond to the challenge.

a.       If the challenge is met with an “all accounted for”, everyone responding with their coin, the challenge is a loss and the Challenger then hosts by sponsoring a round of beverages to those assembled.

4.       Coin Checks are permitted anywhere and anytime.  Ah, the creative aspect of the game.

5.       Failure to buy a round is a despicable crime and will require that you turn-in your Coin to the issuing agency.

6.       EXCEPTIONS -- There are no exceptions to the rules. They apply to those clothed or unclothed. At the time of the challenge you are permitted one step and an arms reach to locate your coin. If you still cannot reach it -- SORRY ABOUT THAT!

a.       A COIN IS A COIN

b.       Coins attached on belt buckles are considered "belt buckles".

c.       Coins on key chains are considered "key chains."

d.       Coins placed in a "holder/clasp" and worn around the neck like a necklace are valid and are considered a coin.

7.       ADVICE – Don’t leave home to visit an organization without it – Especially if they gave it to you!



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