The challenge coin, often called medallion or custom military coins, is more than just a simple collectible material. It came from a very rich culture. Different countries have different stories that involve the significance of the medallion to their nationals’ lives. There are many stories about its importance to various unions. There are also many legends about the medallion.
The custom military coins have been a part of several groups’ tradition. It has been a part of many unions’ history. Each of these organizations have their own ways of keeping the legacy alive. These are some background stories about how the medallion was given importance by many unions in the present generation.
The World War I
During the 1st World War, a lieutenant bought bronze medallions. These were presented to his constituents. One of the custom military coins was kept inside a leather pouch that was hung around the neck of a pilot. He never took it off since it was given to him. He was the only one who did this among all the other members.
While the armies are at war, the pilot’s aircraft got severely damaged by the opponent’s attacks. Because of this, he was forced to land on the enemies’ territory. By the time he got out of the aircraft, he was captured by the opponents. He was brought to their base camp to serve to them as a slave. The captors took all of his belongings. They got everything that is valuable and essential for an individual’s survival. This includes all his identification stuff. All was taken from him except for the pouch hanging on his neck. This is to discourage him from escaping their territory. Without all those things, he would have nothing to use to get back to his camp.
The pilot still managed to escape despite of the tight security. He took that opportunity while there were explosions. That night, the place he was taken to was bombarded by the enemies. He had the courage to do this even if he has nothing that will provide his basic necessities. When he found the French sector, they thought of executing him. He has nothing to prove that he was not an enemy so he took out the medallion. The moment he showed the medallion in the pouch, the execution was cancelled. Instead, he was given a bottle of wine.
Since then, the medallion was used to show their identity as member of their union. They commanded their members to wear their medallions on a pouch at all times. This is how the challenge came to be. They practice this tradition to encourage their constituents to carry their medallions with them all the time.
World War II
The Office of Strategic Service used the challenge coins during the 2nd World War. The custom military coins were used as bona fides during assemblies. By bona fides, it means that these medallions serve as tickets or passes to every assemblies. The members present their coins to make sure that all the people present in their meetings are members of the organization. Each medallion presented is examined by the officers. Every detail is inspected such as the date, the emblem, and the type of the coin. This is to prevent non-members to associate with their businesses. This is to make sure that no one is there to spy on them.
There is another story that happened during the World War II. It happened in the Philippines while an American soldier had a meeting with the Filipino guerrillas. The American soldier used this to present his identities to the guerrillas. This is to make sure that they are dealing with the army who will help them win against the Japanese forces.
Other than the military, there are other organizations who are also using challenge coins. One of these is the United States Congress. They order challenge coins to be distributed to every member of the Congress and their constituents.
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