An E-Sylum reader forwarded this article about Challenge Coins from a U.S. Marines Okinawa site. The article reviews some of the stories behind the origin of the "coins". One I hadn't heard before involves "bullet clubs". Have any of our readers been involved with one of these clubs?Challenge coins are minted military coins embossed with a unit's insignia and commander's billet and are often given to service members by commanders to boost morale and honor service.
During a two-day visit to Okinawa by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent, several Marines from various units received challenge coins in recognition of outstanding work performance.
The origin of the tradition cannot be traced to a specific time and place. There are several stories about how the tradition of challenge coins came into existence, some dating back to World War I.
In another story, according to http://www.globalsecurity.org, the tradition of challenge coins may have originated during the Vietnam War. Service members with free time would indulge in a variety of activities, to include drinking at bars.
They formed what was called bullet clubs. Service members on the front lines often carried a separate bullet to use on themselves to avoid being captured by the enemy.
While in the bar, the service members would often challenge each other to see who was carrying that extra round of ammunition.
Anyone who could not produce the round bought drinks the rest of the night. If the challenged person was able to produce the round then his bar tab would be covered by the challenger.
Service members began bringing larger caliber rounds to the bars as a sign of machismo, even cannon and artillery munitions. To avoid the accidental discharge of the ordnance, bullets were replaced with coins bearing the units insignia.
To read the complete article, see: Challenge coins pass on heritage, history of Marine Corps (http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil
An E-Sylum reader forwarded the following link to a related article on the Chattanooga Police Chief's Challenge Coin. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Officers Receive ''Chief's Challenge Coin'' (http://www.newschannel9.com
Wayne Homren, Editor
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