Custom military coins or challenge coins are very important to men and women in uniform. These exclusively-minted coins of the Armed Forces bear the insignia and motto of every unit or branch of military. The essence of their duty, affiliation and fierce spirit to preserve freedom is captured in these little coins. They symbolize the selfless dedication to protect mankind at all costs. They represent untold stories of heroism and valor.
This is the reason why these custom coins become very vital to the military life.
They are revered by these peacekeepers. They are used as important tools to reward the outstanding services displayed by military men during their performance of duty. The honor of receiving custom military coins is very important to soldiers. Aside from promotions and medals of valor, these special coins become coveted items to prove their worth. They are simple but potent symbols that boost the morale of these freedom fighters.
Military forces also used custom coins to show appreciation of the support coming from head of states or other benevolent patrons who helped their missions. On special occasions, they also award these coins to non-military offices like journalists who helped them spread the news of valor and patriotism.
Even presidents of different nations have collections of custom military coins. President Bill Clinton has collections of military challenge coins given by US servicemen. They were shown in the background of his official photo as president of United States. President Bush received a coin from Marine combat unit when he visited the Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq on September 3, 2007.
The head of states also commissioned coin manufacturers to make personalized coins when he gives honors to brave military men and women. President Barack Obama honored the heroism of soldiers killed during Fort Hood Shooting in 2009 with coins on their memorials.
The tradition of giving custom military coins to reward soldiers can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Fearless and courageous battle heroes were presented with special coins to honor their achievements.
During Vietnam War, Special Forces started the tradition of awarding unit members with military coins with special designs of the missions they have done together with the insignia of the troop. It spread and was adapted by different units of the airborne community. In 1980, the 75th Ranger regiment started the tradition of rewarding unit coins. When members of the unit were given new assignments, they received honorary coins as rewards for their services.
During Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991, the challenge coin tradition spread like fire. One of the most widely-known coins was the “Bull Dog” coin of the United States Air Force. The challenge coin was exclusively made for enlisted tail gunners of B-52 unit. Successful passers of technical trainings received these Bull Dog military challenge coins as proof of their entry to the “Gunners Association.”
The special coin was the representation of their courage and strength. They signify their worth to be called Bulldogs. They were reminders to keep the spirits of valor at all times and prove their mettle as members of elite force. Similar coins were also given to some “honorary gunners” with the ranks of commanders and other very important people who showed remarkable spirit as bulldog.
The usual way to pass these custom military coins is through a ceremonial handshake. The right hand of the giver will pass the coin to the right hand of the recipient. The giver will briefly explain why the receiver deserves the coin. Others call these passing of military coins as secret handshake. The ritual is so quick that sometimes the witnesses do not know what transpired between two people.
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