The Challenge Coin tradition is thought to have originated in the Army Air Service, which was formed during WWI. Other theories for how Challenge Coins were created suggest it was a similar Roman practice that was eventually adopted by the US military, or that Challenge Coins are a recent invention that came about during the Korean War. Regardless of their origins, since the creation of the first Challenge Coins, the practice of minting and distributing Challenge Coins has spread to every branch of the United States Military. There are many different varieties of Challenge Coin used by the military. Army squadrons create custom Challenge Coins emblazoned with their squadron patch or insignia, which are distributed to standout personnel or to visitors of the base, or exchanged like business cards. In addition, they often include the seal of the Army, or one of the symbols associated with it, such as the yellow star. Likewise, Air Force coins often feature the United States Air Force emblem, which is a star flanked on either side by a pair of striped wings. The Navy, the Marines, and the National Guard use Challenge Coins in much the same way. Sometimes, rather than create a coin representing a group or installation, a serviceman or woman in a position of leadership will create a custom Challenge Coin to represent themselves. They then award them to subordinates who go above and beyond in their work, as a mark of personal pride. Other military Challenge Coins are created as graduation “diplomas,” and handed out as part of official proceedings. It is also becoming increasingly popular for graduates to mint coins for themselves in commemoration of their achievement. Other potential uses of military Challenge Coins include fundraising, commemoration of special events, and the memorialization of people who have passed away. Challenge Coins are made to be carried as well as displayed. Be wary of getting caught without your coin if someone starts a coin challenge. Traditionally begun by placing a Challenge Coin on a table in full view of the room, anyone who can’t produce a Challenge Coin of their own will face the consequences. Common punishments for losers include pushups, running, and buying a round of beverages for the winner. Challenge Coins are also collectors items. Custom coin display racks are a good investment if you’re hoping to get a collection going. Every Challenge Coin has a story behind it. A mark of commendation that has been earned. A souvenir of a visit. A base where you were stationed. A trade made with a friend. A memory of a fallen comrade. Whatever your reason for creating, carrying, and collecting military Challenge Coins might be, we create truly phenomenal coins.
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