Knowledge about custom military coins may be limited in some people outside the United States. This is simply because these coins are particularly relevant to the country’s military service personnel who were believed to have started the practice of making and using these coins. But,the existence of these coins has actually crossed the borders of the US and has reached other shores one way or another, either physically or through scenes from popular culture like movies and television programs.
It is a fact that custom military coins have become an identity symbol for the military personnel. There are also various non-military uses for these coins. Here are some interesting facts that can be shared by enthusiasts all over the world:
• The Army Engineer Association’s Engineer Regimental Store houses the largest collection of Army Engineer-related coins. The coins that are displayed in one of the store’s large cabinets were donations from store customers who have visited the store since the late 1980s. The store is located in the Engineer Museum.
• During the World War 11, an American soldier carried a Philippine silver coin to verify his identity to Philippine guerillas. The silver coin carried the unit’s emblem on its side, a sign that he is indeed the soldier contact who is to rendezvous with the Philippine guerillas to help plan the attack against the Japanese.
• Even other organizations such as the National Football League or NFS, the Civil Air Patrol, the Eagle Scouts, The NASCAR, and the World Series of Poker use custom military coins or challenge coins. Police and fire departments as well as fraternities are also known to use these coins today.
• The Utah Symphony and Opera is the first US symphony organization to present challenge coins to all of its staff and musicians.
• The National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club reward members with their own coin bearing the Buffalo Soldier logo and the year it was established (1999). The coin is exclusively given by a National Officer or Chapter President to a member with a noteworthy achievement.
• The Harley Owners Group has also made its own challenge coin to owners of Harley Davidson motorcycles, and is available only through its website. According to the website, the coin is symbolic of the pride in owning a Harley motorbike, whether on the bike or off.
• Members of the American Radio Relay League who are Volunteer Examiners carry the VEC (Volunteer Examiner Coordinator) Challenger Coin. These are the members who are responsible for administering license examinations to amateur radio operators.
• The US Air Force personnel were given Iron Man 2 challenge coins in a show of gratitude for their cooperation during the filming of the movie on location at the Edwards Air Force Base.
• An Executive Producer’s Challenge Coin was given to the Big Bang Theory’s last Space Shuttle’s crew. The coins were given by executive producer Bill Prady.
• Video game companies like Treyarch gave challenge coins with certain packages for the release of the game Black Ops 2.
It can be concluded therefore that knowledge about custom military coins is not limited to the military personnel alone. It has become popular to merit mention in popular television programs, and has become an icon for people outside the military service.
Custom military coins have been featured in several television programs including JAG, where it is used in a flip-coin challenge to decide who will resign his or her military commission. In an episode of NCIS, a coin is shown as a means of identification. In Criminal Minds, Special Agent Derek Morgan possesses and displays a collection of custom military coins on his desk, and uses one of these coins to establish communication with a traumatized boy, even relating the story of how a coin has helped an American soldier be recognized by the French after escaping from the Germans during World War I.
It is interesting to note though, that in all of the mentioned occasions, custom military coins have been revered by organizations and individuals, and not taken lightly.