An E-Sylum reader forwarded this story about the father of a soldier who died in Iraq giving challenge coins to local officials in Massachusetts. -Editor Less than a week after Navy Petty Officer Tyler J. Trahan's May 13 funeral, his father, Jean Pierre Trahan, took the time to give his son's challenge coins to selectmen and a number of residents to thank them for their support.
"I was overwhelmed by everything they have done, just overwhelmed. It was amazing," Trahan said, speaking earlier this week from Virginia, where the family was attending a Navy awards ceremony for their son.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler J. Trahan, an explosives technician working with a Navy Seals team, was killed in action on April 30 in Iraq. He was two days' shy of his 23rd birthday.
His funeral was attended by 500 people, including state and local officials, and well over 1,000 residents carrying flags lined the streets to show their respect.
"It was a very nice gesture on the part of the Trahan family," Selectman Jean C. Fox said of their decision to give the challenge coins as a show of gratitude. "They have maintained incredible courage and dignity throughout this whole process."
Challenge coins are believed to have their origin during World War I when a U.S. Air Force, then Army Air Service, lieutenant had the gold-covered, bronze coins made for his squadron. According to www.coinforce.com, one of the pilots placed the coin in a pouch around his neck and was eventually shot down by the Germans. While in transport to a POW camp, the pilot escaped and made contact with a French patrol who believed him to be the enemy until he showed his coin as proof of American citizenship. From then on, so the story goes, his squadron always carried the coins with them.
Every branch of the military has continued the tradition of carrying coins with various insignias to represent unity and individual accomplishment. Recipients are challenged to produce the coin when another member of the group shows his or her coin. Anyone who does not produce a coin has to do something — most commonly buy a round of drinks — for the others.
Jean Pierre Trahan said that he distributed 25 coins to those who have helped his family during such a difficult time.
To read the complete article, see: Father of serviceman killed in Iraq gives son's challenge coins to officials as sign of gratitude (www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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