July Custom Challenge Coin of the Month – Patton’s Own Knife
This month’s featured military challenge coin is one of the most beautiful and intricate we have ever crafted. Cast in the iconic shape of a Bowie knife, the Patton’s Own Knife coin celebrates the unique accomplishments of the U. S. Army Central, also known as the Third Army. Of course, the United States Army Central is also known as “Patton’s Own,” after its famous commander General George S. Patton.
Military Challenge Coin – The Third Army
The Third United States Army came into being in the European theatre during World War I. Its purpose was to occupy and subdue German territories in anticipation of the formal end of the war. Though the Central Powers would wait a full two years to sign the treaty of Versailles, the serious fighting had ended in German territories occupied by the Allies. Over the course of two years, the Third Army was instrumental in the long process of post-war reconstruction. When the Treaty of Versailles was finally signed, the men of the Third Army returned home.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Third Army was thrown back into service. Tasked with training multitudinous draftees, the ranks of the Third Army swelled before its deployment in 1943. Though not involved in the initial landings at Normandy, under General Patton’s command, the Third Army was instrumental in the European campaign.
There’s a reason why the Third Army was nicknamed called Patton’s Own. Immortalized in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1970 biopic Patton, the General’s against all odds campaign against the Axis powers made history as well as redeeming the man from a difficult situation he faced in the wake of capturing Messina in North Africa.
“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country,” Patton says in one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, “You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Thanks to his almost mystical belief in battlefield valor and heroic greatness, Patton had little time for indecision. A famous story of World War II has Patton blasting through France, unstoppable until his tanks literally ran out of gas. Though this sometimes got him in trouble (the consequences of which included being idled in Great Britain for much of the war), in other cases it likely saved thousands of lives.
One such example is the storied Battle of Bastogne. Nearly a blunder of epic proportions, the liberation of the 101st Airborne from Axis encirclement stands as a great example of Patton’s prowess. After a successful campaign in France, Patton heard word that the Germans had made significant gains in the North. Then Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower conferred with his Generals about possible responses to this new threat. He put a positive spin on it, claiming that the German advanced stretched their line and left them vulnerable to counterattack. He asked Patton how long it would take to turn the Third Army around to launch this counter attack. Patton claimed with suitable audacity that he could have a pair of divisions there in 48 hours.
Unbeknownst to the other men at the table, Patton had foreseen this turn of events and planned accordingly. He realized there would be a final push in France, and he wanted to be part of it. So, during a snowy and bitterly cold French winter, Patton’s Own wheeled ninety degrees and began their erstwhile advance north. Upon arriving, he found the 101st Airborne hemmed in on all sides, besieged in Bastogne having struck too early with too little support. Against the better advice and bickering of his peers, Patton pushed his men against the Germans south of the city relentlessly, despite the brutal weather and crushing fatigue.
Thanks to his refusal to take a break from the fighting and regroup, Patton personally led the charge that finally broke the German line and liberated Bastogne. It was this battle, the response to Germany’s last gasp effort to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, that would set the stage first for the expulsion of German forces from Europe and finally the invasion of Germany itself.
After once again defeating the Germans, the Third returned to their familiar status as an occupying force, assuring that the territories would stay trouble-free during the transition to peace.
In the post-war period, the Third Army continued to train new recruits for the various entanglements that would crop up during the Cold War period. In 1974, these duties were transferred to FORSCOM.
Patton’s Own wouldn’t see another major development until 1982, when their new headquarters was established at Fort McPherson. Its new status was that of an echelon above corps that would bring American Army battle expertise and personnel to the United States Central Command. With this new mission and a new name, Army Central (or ARCENT), Patton’s Own became responsible for operations in Asia, Africa, and the Persian Gulf.
The import of this mission would quickly become apparent with the advent of the Gulf War.
The Third Army in the Middle East
For eight years, the Third Army had been training for a new battlefield. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s indiscretions involving Kuwait opened him up for the full force of the United States military machine, not to mention that of the its allies. The Gulf War was a master class in efficiency, as over the course of a little more than six months, United States forces clinically dismantled Hussein’s military and completely disabled his combat infrastructure in a display of strength and precision that is still studied today.
Patton’s Own has continued to wage peace in the Middle East ever since. ARCENT has been deeply involved in Operation Vigilant Warrior, Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Operation Desert Strike, and may other important missions in the region. Since 2003, the Third Army has operated out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, ensuring American interests are supported and protected as they continue their important role prosecuting the Global War on Terror.
Custom Coin Designs for Any Occasion
Our “Patton’s Own” knife coin wraps all this history up in an attractive and utilitarian memento. Those familiar with military challenge coin culture will appreciate the bottle-opener notch on the “spine” of the coin; when you pull this one out to crack open a cold recreational beverage, you are guaranteed to start a conversation.
The first “face” of the coin features the Third Army “A” logo toward the tip of the blade, the Army star with “U. S. Army Central” proclaiming the coin’s unique provenance sits next to the guard at the bottom of the blade. “Area Support Group Qatar” flanks the star in attractive debossed lettering; “Award of Excellence” can be found emblazoned across the guard. Perhaps the most impressive element of this coin’s already impressive design is the full-color portrait of General Patton found on the grip of the coin. “Patton’s Own; Always First” declares the inscription, a reminder of the Third Army’s impressive and storied history.
The other face of the coin is also replete with fine detail. The shoulder badge of a Command Sergeant Major is found at the base of the blade, while the eagle of the Colonel’s rank badge can be found at the tip of the blade. An inscription baring the mission of ARCENT, “Supporting the Defenders of Peace,” runs up either side of the blade’s bottom. Again, we find “Award of Excellence” written across the guard, and a silhouette of Qatar with the Qatari and American flags flying on the grip.
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