The History of Challenge Coins


Medals of America recently produced this infographic on the history of the Challenge Coin which intrigued me to say the least.  I’ve had several family members serve for our country and this was a piece of history I wanted to share.

Challenge Coins have a very important place in the history of the Military though it’s a story that many people haven’t heard.  Ask anyone in the military today to produce their infantry challenge coin and they will likely produce a unique coin that they earned fighting for our country, if he can’t produce that coin that man may have to buy the next round of drinks!

Challenge coins are small coins or medallions (usually used in the military), bearing an organization’s emblem or insignia and carried by the that specific organizations members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged or to enhance morale in the person they are being given too. In addition, they are also collected by people who serve in the military. Challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of that specific unit. They can also be exchanged between members and are often collected.

The history of the Challenge Coin dates back to World War 1.  An American Pilot was shot down and captured by German troops, the pilot managed to escape and get into France but upon arriving the French thought the man was a spy and sentenced the soldier to execution.  The pilot then presented the medallion that he was carrying, a French soldier recognized the medallion and delayed the execution.  They were then able to confirm the mans identity and safely returned him to an American base, with the Challenge Coin saving this mans life it instantly caught on and there cemented the Challenge coin forever in American History.

You can see more stories of the historic Challenge coin in the infographic below.

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