Challenge coins are available for all branches of the military, police forces all over the country, and many other organizations. The commemorative aspect of giving the coin exists for many reasons – for services provided or for membership for a period of time. The coins can be for many years of loyal service to a company. However, the main meaning behind the coins originates with the US Air Force.
The Air Force challenge coin was said to have made an appearance during World War I. However, it is the subject of much controversy as to how it exactly came into existence. Many believe the original coin was contracted by a rich lieutenant who had them made for all the members of his squadron. The story says they were struck from solid bronze. One thing is certain; the challenge coins represent a high honor for the recipient.
The Air Force challenge coins are made from many different materials. Bronze, gold plated, and silver are just a few of the different types. One of the rarest in existence today is the “Bull Dog” challenge coin. It was a coin made exclusively for the tail gunners of B-52s. This is no longer an existing position so this particular challenge coin is becoming quite rare.
The challenge coins of today are given to an Airman upon his graduation from basic training. The coins are given to widows of servicemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This is a way of showing how much the sacrifice has touched the lives of many and will continue to do so. The brotherhood felt among Air Force members is a special feeling which is even more so because of the nature of their service together.
The coins are typically cast with the insignia of the rank of the soldier it is being presented to and the branch and squadron as well. There may be a motto added as there is usually always something that is unique to the group of which the soldier belongs. This is the key to the Air Force challenge coin. The sense of belonging is what makes the coin so special.
The coins are available for practically every rank in the Air Force including the following:
Airman First Class
Chief Master Sergeant
The coins have the US Air Force insignia on the front and the rank of the soldier on the back. They can be made with a raised insignia and also a 3-D insignia. Some are customized with the addition of an airplane or a jet. The more elaborate military coins are normally special orders by a member of the squadron or the leader for special achievements. The ones that are given to every soldier upon graduation are a typical type with no special features.
Maybe no one knows for certain where the first Air Force challenge coins came from but if you are in the Air Force you know the meaning. The sense of belonging to something that is quite powerful and world-wide is one that is full of pride in the commitment that has been made to serve and protect.
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