History of Challenge Coins

The history of challenge coins goes way back to World War I. During World War I, American volunteers from all over the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons in Europe. The volunteers were from all over, some being wealthy and were attending college who quit mid-term to join the war. One of the wealthy lieutenants ordered solid bronze medallions and gave them to his unit as a way to commemorate their loyalty to the ongoing war effort.

Challenge coins started in the military when a World War I pilot’s aircraft was severely damaged. He was then captured by a German patrol which he succeeded in escaping from the German’s however was later stopped by the French. The American soldier was not recognized as an American and was taken by the French soldiers to be executed. There was no way for the American to prove himself as an American soldier as all his belongings and identification was taken by the Germans.

However, he did have a challenge coin medallion he received from a member of his original crew. He showed his challenge coin medallion to his would-be executioners and one of the French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. The French executioners delayed his execution long enough to confirm his identity with his challenge coin.

Military Challenge Coins

The Challenge Coin History & Tradition Continues

The history of challenge coins all started as a piece of hardware to hold on to as a sign of loyalty to an ongoing effort and has expanded since.

Once the American soldier returned to his squadron, it become mandatory that all patrons carry their challenge coin medallion at all times.

How challenge coins got the name of ‘challenge’ came from military personnel being required to carry their challenge coins and if one man presented his to another, the other person would have a ‘one-step’

Military personnel now challenge each other by ‘coining’. Coining refers to one person presenting their challenge coin and if the recipient being challenged has their challenge coin, the one who initially challenged him has to buy the other person dinner, drinks, etc. However, if the challenger does not have his on him or within reach, he has to buy dinner or drinks for the person who challenged him.

Challenge Coins Today

Challenge coins became a form of identification for military personnel however now have evolved into so much more. Challenge coins have been used to promote friendships, strengthen bonds and encourage success. They are used for not only military personnel but challenge coins are also a huge hit for school merchandise, church organizations, scout groups, Greek organizations, and so much more. Not only do challenge coins promote individual strength and courage, challenge coins inspire teamwork and camaraderie as well. Whether they become a keepsake or trading coins, challenge coins are a great way to show who you are and where you come from.

Start telling YOUR story today with a Challenge Coin from Activity Coins. Help the challenge coins history and tradition live on and contact us today to get started creating your commemorative challenge coin.