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The Challenge Coin

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media of people with special event cigar coins. I thought I would write about it briefly what the coins mean and their history. These special coins got their start from the military and are called Challenge coins, usually given to people as a reward. I remember getting my first challenge coin upon completing boot camp. Throughout my years of service, I have received a bunch of coins from awards or given to me as a memento upon leaving my duty station.

In the military you would always carry a challenge coin on you because you never knew when you would get coin checked or “Challenged”. Whoever didn’t produce a coin usually had to buy a round of drinks. Usually we would get challenged at banquets, award dinners, or social gatherings at the Enlisted Club. I think getting checked has become a dying action, which is sad because it’s an old school tradition.

I’m sure you could try to coin check some of these new kids in the military and probably 1 out of 5 would have a coin on them. The challenge of the coin got its start during World War II as a way of verifying friend or foe from the Nazi’s. Eventually it was used to verify you were assigned to a certain unit like special ops. All challenge coins are custom made and are given out for certain reasons; these coins were not something you could buy, but something you had to earn. Later, civilian departments like the fire, police, and EMT’s started to come up with their own coins. Now, other commercial organizations are starting to produce memento coins. To me, a coin earned is far superior than a coin bought in my opinion!

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