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Challenge Coins

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  • Challenge Coins

    I had read a thread where an officer had given a challenge coin to a little boy. I had never heard of a challenge coin, so I used the search function and found it mentioned in several threads. I also googled it to get a better understanding of its background and meaning/purpose. I read the story about the WWI soldier whose life had been saved when a French soldier recognized the insignia on his medallion. I noticed this story was also mentioned in a thread from 2008. I also found a story on the internet that told of soldiers in Ancient Rome who would receive a coin in addition to their day's pay if they had performed well in battle. I learned about the secret handshake ( the coin is passed from the right hand of the giver to the right hand of the awardee ) that is still used by some leaders/supervisors today.

    One thing I noticed in the threads is that the coins seem to be most popular for trading or to be given out to an entire department. Occasionally they are used to honor a fallen officer. I believe it was only mentioned once or twice about the coins being used to recognize one individual for an act of bravery/heroism in the line of duty.

    May I ask if any of you have ever worked for an agency/department that participated in this tradition? What was the coins main purpose where you work(ed)? Have any of you had the opportunity to be the giver or the receiver of a challenge coin?

  • #2
    I carried one every day when I was Active Duty. I carry one daily now (usually)
    USAF VETERAN 2004-2012
    "The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day."-LTC Grossman
    Department of the Army Police Officer (0083-06)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by J2H View Post
      I carried one every day when I was Active Duty. I carry one daily now (usually)
      Only because you don't wanna buy the round.

      The military has had a tradition of carrying coins for years. I'm guessing but it probably had its earliest beginnings in the Army/Navy. When an officer paid his enlisted he would give them a silver dollar. The tradition became known as a "Silver Dollar Salute." That tradition still holds today when an Officer salutes his first Enlisted troop, he/she is supposed to render a silver dollar, .999 troy ounce dollar. The idea is the officer pays for the first salute and then earns each salute after that. I have 7 silver dollars that I'm proud of because it represents those young Officers who have served and are serving our Armed Forces. Challenge coins should be either from a unit, precinct, or even personalized beyond that if it's a Chief or Sheriff, or even Special Agent. For the service its like police passing their patches to different people along the way who they trained with or did assignments with. The tradition was to give YOUR coin to someone who had done something honorable or above and beyond.

      This is based off of memory, and JMHO.
      trust your dog

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      • #4
        One of the sheriffs I worked had a challenge coin designed for our department, and then bought one for every employee. He paid out of his own pocket - approximately 300 employees. Not having it with me has cost me a beer a couple times.
        Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

        I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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        • #5
          Thank you all for the replies.

          that's my hand,
          Thanks for sharing the story of the " Silver Dollar Salute"

          I can see how these coins can have a great deal of sentimental value for the recipient.

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          • #6
            I have carried the challenge coin from my Cadet Academy with me every day for 2 years. When I graduate the Big Boy academy, I plan on doing the same.
            REINSTATE THE TRIG
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            Arresting someone is fun, but playing with my pecker is still more fun.
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            Being a cop these days in an officer safety issue

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            • #7
              We had some made with our department emblems on them. Not many have one i dont believe anymore,Most probably dont even know what they are or even heard about them .To much turnover over the years

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              • #8
                Originally posted by that's my hand View Post

                Only because you don't wanna buy the round.

                The military has had a tradition of carrying coins for years. I'm guessing but it probably had its earliest beginnings in the Army/Navy. When an officer paid his enlisted he would give them a silver dollar. The tradition became known as a "Silver Dollar Salute." That tradition still holds today when an Officer salutes his first Enlisted troop, he/she is supposed to render a silver dollar, .999 troy ounce dollar. The idea is the officer pays for the first salute and then earns each salute after that. I have 7 silver dollars that I'm proud of because it represents those young Officers who have served and are serving our Armed Forces. Challenge coins should be either from a unit, precinct, or even personalized beyond that if it's a Chief or Sheriff, or even Special Agent. For the service its like police passing their patches to different people along the way who they trained with or did assignments with. The tradition was to give YOUR coin to someone who had done something honorable or above and beyond.

                This is based off of memory, and JMHO.
                Nope. A patrol found a solo soldier in WWII, and when they challenged his identity he presented an American coin. Thus, "challenge coins."

                It's also a tradition that when soldiers are in bars & one of them presents a challenge coin, if the other soldier can't produce his challenge coin he is then obligated to buy the next round.
                "You're never guaranteed the cards that life is going to deal you. But nothing says you can't play the hell out of them!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pogue Mahone View Post

                  Nope. A patrol found a solo soldier in WWII, and when they challenged his identity he presented an American coin. Thus, "challenge coins."

                  It's also a tradition that when soldiers are in bars & one of them presents a challenge coin, if the other soldier can't produce his challenge coin he is then obligated to buy the next round.
                  Ok, so, what happens when the soldier produces the coin after being challenged? What happens when there are 75 people in a bar and someone challenges? Google that wiseguy.
                  trust your dog

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by that's my hand View Post

                    Ok, so, what happens when the soldier produces the coin after being challenged? What happens when there are 75 people in a bar and someone challenges? Google that wiseguy.
                    Person with the coin given by the lowest rank buys. To make an easy example, 1 guy has a coin given to him buy an LTC. 73 others has a coin given by a full bird COL, and 1 given a coin by a BG. Guy with his LTC coin buys. Although I have never 75 guys whip em out to see who buys.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by scotty_appleton814 View Post

                      Person with the coin given by the lowest rank buys. To make an easy example, 1 guy has a coin given to him buy an LTC. 73 others has a coin given by a full bird COL, and 1 given a coin by a BG. Guy with his LTC coin buys. Although I have never 75 guys whip em out to see who buys.
                      I think you're right, although my explanation is probably still valid, as the person w/o a coin obviously wouldn't have a coin that outranks anyone else'.
                      "You're never guaranteed the cards that life is going to deal you. But nothing says you can't play the hell out of them!"

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                      • #12
                        I have one that an LAPD officer gave me but I've never seen them handed out down here.

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                        • #13
                          The only one I've got came from the leader of our Governor's Highway Safety Program regional task force. One was made for every officer of every participating agency. We had a particularly good year, I think. (I'm not the agency rep since it's all traffic stuff, so I don't really keep up with it.) Our Captain over the Investigations Bureau, however, has a nice display which a bunch from other departments. I think one of the ways it works is if you provide a significant amount of help to another agency on a case or something of that nature and one of the big wigs happens to have a challenge coin and be of that inclination, they'd present it to you.

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                          • #14
                            My old department used to give them out, but I never saw the point in it. My academy class bought some for everyone if they wished to pay. Again, I never saw the point in it. I always saw it as something to lose.
                            There once was a man who said: "Though,
                            it seems that I know that I know,
                            what I'd like to see is the I that knows me,
                            when I know that I know that I know."

                            - Alan Watts

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                            • #15
                              My first one came from a Task Force I was on. It was an honor to have earned it. If challenged by another member and you didn't have it, drinks were on you. My second was from the same organization at the 30 year anniversary. Mine was extra special because I was part of the first decade. Third came from my old Agency. They created them after I retired and I was part of an outside training team. The last ones came from Academies I was part of. If you are given one, realize they are not usually handed out like candy at Halloween. They should be special.

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                              • PR723
                                PR723 commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Thank you for the reply

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