Challenge coins are a tradition like none other. They are a unique traditions in the United States military. Every branch of the military presents challenge coins to commemorate service, acts of courage, promotions, and other special occasions. A great tradition endures the test of time, and challenge coins have indeed done that. They have been a part of two world wars, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Vietnam conflict, and the death of Osama Bin Laden.
These days even Presidents are in on the tradition, as Presidents from Bill Clinton to Joe Biden have all minted their own challenge coins. Presidential coins are often presented as a gift to soldiers and foreign envoys. Challenge coins carry special meaning for members of the military. They represent special milestones, missions, accomplishments, and more. For those who go above and beyond in their duties, challenge coins are an honor that showcases a special moment in their career.
Challenge coins are also used to boost morale, fostering camaraderie within a squadron or battalion. Custom coins give members something to remember their brothers and sisters in service, serving as a cherished memento of the past.
Origins of the Challenge Coin
The popularity of challenge coins began in World War I. According to historians, a Lieutenant minted challenge coins for his squadron, which were engraved with the squadron’s emblem. The Lieutenant was captured by German forces, escaping captivity before being picked up by the French military. The Lieutenant was an American but believed to be a spy and was prepared for execution. However, he was spared before his execution due to the French recognizing the American squadron on his challenge coin. He was released from captivity, which cemented the challenge coin's place in military history.
Presidential Challenge Coins
When it comes to military challenge coins, there is no greater honor than receiving a challenge coin from the President of the United States. Former President Bill Clinton started the presidential coin tradition and had quite a collection of his own. Former President George Bush Jr. kept the tradition alive, as did President Obama. Former President Trump also had his own challenge coins, which were presented for exemplary service supporting the 2018 North Korea and United States nuclear talks in Singapore.
POW-MIA coins honor those brave individuals who were captured during the battle. The POW-MIA designation is one of the most tragic in the military, and the United States designated thousands of soldiers as POW or MIA. In rare cases, POWs were returned by the adversary, as nearly 700 American troops were returned after the Vietnam War. To survive POW designation is rare and deserves recognition. The POW-MIA coin features the National League of POW/MIA while including barbed wire to symbolize their prison.
Congressional Medal of Honor
Another iconic design is the Congressional Medal of Honor. This is one of the nation’s highest achievements, issued to soldiers who go above and beyond in the line of duty. There is no statute of limitations on this award either. Merrill’s Marauders from WWII were recently honored with the Medal of Honor, thanks to their secret mission in the jungles of Burma in 1944.
Friday the 13th Coin
Another unique military challenge coin is the Friday the 13th coin. It's not easy to become a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. In the enlisted ranks, soldiers start their careers as E-1 seaman recruits. If you are lucky enough to rise up the ranks to an E-7, you will be a Chief Petty Officer. The rank means that you have acquired technical expertise and have become a leader of fellow enlisted men and women. The promotion also means you can access the Chief Petty Officer mess hall. To commemorate the achievement, a Friday the 13th challenge coin is issued. These unique coins feature the face of the Halloween legend Jason Voorhees, the star of the Friday the 13th movies. The date is important because that is when coin creators were accepted into the mess hall, further adding to the allure and appeal of challenge coins.
Challenge Coins Commemorate Military Milestones
Military challenge coins are an important part of military life and history. They are used for several purposes, including honoring those who go above and beyond while paying homage to the past. Soldiers will have a collection of custom coins that tell a story about their career, their achievements, and other milestones. Challenge coins are passed out for special milestones, commemorating promotions, special missions, completion of major tasks, and more. These coins hold a special place in the hearts of our troops and have become an important tradition of military life.
At ChallengeCoins4Less.com, we understand the significance of military challenge coins and take satisfaction in producing them. We have produced custom challenge coins of all sorts for nearly twenty years. We know what works and what doesn’t, and we will work with you to create the perfect challenge coins for your needs. Military coins remain a lasting tradition, though they can be found in the public sector as well.
Military-style challenge coins are being used by businesses, brands, and other organizations in the same ways they are used in the military. Custom coins are used to honor special achievements and accomplishments in many different fields.
At ChallengeCoins4Less.com, we have an incredible staff that will work with you to create the ideal coin. Our industry-leading graphic artists can help you reproduce an existing design or create a new one regardless of shape or size. Ordering from us is easy as we never charge for artwork or revisions, and we back everything we sell with our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Hello, I'm Jesse Daugherty, a music enthusiast, sports aficionado, and an avid supporter of the arts. I'm a writer and content creator. For the past 5 years, I've shared my knowledge of custom challenge coins and other promotional products, exploring their designs, meaning, and purpose.