Custom Challenge Coins History


Several challenge coin stories are circulating about the origins and history of military coins.

The actual origin of the military challenge coins may never be known.

Posted below are the most popular stories about the history of the military coin. is proud to be the World’s leading manufacturer of custom challenge coins and to be part of challenge coin history.


WWI Challenge Coins History (Most Popular)


During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in midterm to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore around his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the pilot’s aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification.


He succeeded avoided the German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no man’s land. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot’s American accent, the French thought he was a saboteur and was ready to execute him.

He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back at his squadron, it became a tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallions or custom made coins at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner which a challenger would ask to see the medallion. If the challenger could not provide the personalized coins or medallions, they are required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member is able to provide a medallion, then the challenging member is required to pay for the drink. So that is the story behind challenge coin history and traditions.

WWII Challenge Coins History


Another tradition dates to US Military personnel assigned to occupy post World War II Germany. With the exchange rate, the West German One Pfennig coin was worth only a fraction of a U.S. cent and they were generally considered not having enough value to be worth keeping unless one is broke.

Servicemen would gather for a beer anywhere. If a soldier called out “Pfennig Check” everyone had to empty their pockets to show if they were saving any West German Pfennigs. If a soldier could provide a Pfennig, it means that he was nearly broke and if a soldier could not provide a Pfennig, it means that he had enough money to not bother saving them and have enough money to buy the next round.


Vietnam Challenge Coins History

The tradition of giving military coins dates back to Vietnam. Soldiers carry around a “lucky” weapon to help them or get away with it. At first, it was small arms ammunition, but this practice grew to much bigger and more dangerous ordnance as time wound on.



U.S. President Challenge Coins History

U.S President Custom Challenge Coins are a symbol of welcome and honor for visitors. It is a long tradition. So, do you know some custom challenge coins issued by presidents? It dates back to the 1990s.

Presidential Trump’s Custom Metal Coins are awarded for his huge contribution. In November 2016, Trump got a challenge coin from the navy force.

President Barack Obama’s coins are given out for air force soldiers by “secret handshake”.

At 3rd September 2017, President George W. Bush received an unexpected challenge coin from Marine Corps in Anbar Province, Iraq.



In a word, the military coins are a symbol of glory which deserves our memory and respect. And it’s a good idea to give honor coins like this as a proof of identity or as a gift to the military members.



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