You might see different air force challenge coins and wonder why in the world people care about them so much. There’s an interesting challenge coin history that clears up the significance.
We’re going to take a brief look at that history today, giving you insight into what makes these coins so special. You’ll appreciate why service members of all kinds use these coins and cherish them every day.
So, what is a challenge coin? Let’s get started.
The History of Air Force Challenge Coins
Challenge coins stem from the history of the “lucky coin.” These coins have been used by people through the ages, probably for as long as we’ve had coins.
We place significance on little objects when their presence seems to bring some kind of good fortune or general luck. In the military, this trend started some during the first World War.
A squadron of men in the air force was just getting familiarized with one another and starting to form a bond. Of the men, one happened to be wealthy and could afford to have a set of custom medallions made.
The medallions contained the name of the squadron as well as some imagery that embellished the coins. The man offered these coins to his men, hoping to unite them further and provide a little good luck.
This was the first time that a person was known to give thanks with challenge coins, a tradition that has continued to this day.
The Life-Saving Coin
As the war raged on, the squadron was on a mission somewhere near the border of France and Germany. One of the men was shot down and landed behind German lines.
He survived but was forced to flee his wreckage and take shelter. In doing so, he was caught by German soldiers and held captive in a building. While he was there, the building was demolished by French and American planes, but the man survived.
From that wreckage, he was able to escape. He made his way toward No Man’s Land from behind enemy lines. He did so with the disguise of a German uniform he picked up in the demolished building.
Doing his best to blend in, the soldier managed to cross No Man’s Land and reach the French side. He was captured immediately, though, as he looked like a German soldier.
He pleaded his case, explaining that he was an American who had made his way back from German territory. All the while, the French soldiers were sure he was a German spy.
He was on course to be executed until he presented his squadron’s coin. Nobody knew what it was, and it didn’t do much for his case. That was until one French soldier spoke up.
He had seen another American soldier with the coin and understood that there was no other coin like it. He had to be telling the truth.
As a result of the coin, the man’s life was saved.
Want To Learn More About Challenge Coin History?
Since that time, service members have kept their coins on their person in the case of an extreme event. There’s a lot of history and culture associate with the coins, though.
Things have changed in some ways and remained the same in others. In any case, Air Force challenge coins are important to understand. We’re here to help with more information.
Explore our site for more insight into challenge coins, find a challenge coin maker and more.