Traditional Custom Military Coins in Modern Times: The Challenge Reinvented

Traditionally, custom military coins have become known as challenge coins. Initially, this is to challenge any military member so that he can identify himself as a member of a military service unit, and to prove his claim of being part of an important and successful military mission.Most of these custom military coins or challenge coins are usually presented to new members when they join the organization. They are also often used as reward tokens to improve morale and as commemorative items for special occasions. Customarily, the members are supposed to carry their unit’s coin and the challenge is a common way to ensure this. Through the years, the challenge has evolved into other forms.

Coin challenges are not used for combat anymore, but for camaraderie. The challenge has been reinvented and is usually done in bars, where a military man can challenge his group if they have brought their own coin. A challenger will slap the coin on top of the table, and all other members of the group should slap their own custom military coins on the table. Those who do not carry their coin should pay for one round of drinks, while those who do, will pay nothing.

If and when everyone can show his coin, the one who raised the challenge should pay for one round of drinks. While this has been a practice and a tradition since the Vietnam War, it is merely a fun challenge for most military personnel. But now, it can be done by members of the same organization, even if they are not part of the military, just as long as they have their own version of the custom military coins.custom military coinsStill, sometimes, the coins are measured by value and the challenger can actually make a rule as to who has the coin of the highest value. At present, the presidential coin or the POTUS (President of the United States) can trump all other coins.

There are usually no formal challenge rules and they can vary from one organization to another. What is common, however, is that these rules only apply to those members that have been formally given custom military coins by the unit.

But to make it easier to understand, there are common challenge rules that are universal to all coin challenges.

1.  The rules of the coin game must be given or explained to all new coin holders.

2. The coin must be carried at all times because one can be challenged for it anywhere at any time. One must produce the coin without taking more than 4 steps to produce it.

3.  A challenger should always state whether it is for a single drink or a round of drinks. Failure to produce a coin results in a bought round or single drink.

4.  Once one person has been challenged and has already bought drinks, he cannot be challenged anymore by any other member of the group.

5.  No one is allowed to hand a coin to another person in response to a challenge. If a person gives their coin to another, the recipient can now keep the coin for good.

6.  On the other hand, if the coin is lost, replacement is up to the original owner. A new coin should be acquired at the earliest opportunity because it does not relieve a member of the responsibility of producing a coin when challenged.

7.  Any member of the organization can be challenged at any time, even if they are not wearing the official uniform.

8.  Coins should not be pierced with a hole as to carry them as a pendant. Coins which bore a hole are considered null and void.

Knowing the rules is as important as owning one. And with the knowledge of the challenge, one cannot be exempt from the challenge anymore.

The coin has become a symbol, not only of membership in an organization and a proof of being part of an achievement; it has also become a symbol of camaraderie. Thus, owning a coin is always a source of pride. Giving a coin to just anyone is opening a fraternity to just anyone. It is an honor to be given a coin and has a more personal value than a purchased one.

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