In today’s generation, Challenge Coins continue to be the illustration of the steady ties and accord among military units. They are popular among scout troops, police departments, fire departments, colleges, schools, and even church groups. While fast rising in popularity, many people do not know what Challenge Coins are, where they came from, or even what their history is, in general. If you want to learn more about what these coins are, here’s a brief discussion about the History of Challenge Coins. The history of Challenge Coins dates back to the World War I, where the volunteers of America filled up the freshly formed flying squadrons. Some of these volunteers came from wealthy families, mostly students from prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale, who stopped during the middle term to join the World War. In one of the squadrons, a rich lieutenant ordered emblems in solid bronze and conferred them to his own unit. One of the pilots placed the medallion emblem in a tiny leather pouch and wore it around his neck. Just a couple of hours after the medallions were conferred; ground fire seriously damaged the aircraft of the pilot. He was compelled to set down just behind the enemy lines; thus, he was captured by one of the German patrols. The German threatened him and discouraged him to escape by taking all his personal belongings and identification, all except for one – the small pouch that was hanging around his neck. Meanwhile, he was taken down to a French town a few
kilometers away from the front line. Taking advantage of the situation, he managed to escape, without his personal effects and identification. He succeeded to escape the Germans by disguising in civilian clothing at the front line. Although it was easy for him to run away from the patrols, he had a hard time crossing the no-man’s island, but eventually succeeded. He then stumbled upon the French outpost. Unfortunately during that time, wreckers had been sabotaging the French sector and they were known to be dressed like civilians. The French people didn’t recognize the pilot’s American tongue and had mistaken him for a wrecker, so they were prepared to execute him. He didn’t have any personal identification to show and to prove that he wasn’t a wrecker. The only thing that he had was the pouch that contained the medallion. He showed the medallion to them and one of the French captors recognized the insignia. After long deliberation, they released him. Now, the pilot was back to his squadron and the medallion became a tradition. It was then that the members of the squadron carried the medallion with them anywhere they went, thus giving birth to the Challenge Coins.