What is a Challenge Coin? The simple answer is: A challenge coin is usually a metal coin or medallion, bearing an organization's emblem or logo and carried by the organization's members and in the case of G-Square Publishing, also its supporters.
Traditionally, challenge coins were used by the military and displayed by servicemen and women to prove exclusive membership when challenged, or to display a sense of pride in the organization and the fact that they are in some way a part of the organizational membership or structure.
The G-Square challenge coin is about the size of a fifty-cent piece. It proudly bears the Double-G G-Square logo on the front of the coin. It neatly fits into a member’s pocket for easy show when it is time for a challenge or offered as a gift.
Traditionally, the coin might be given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. They are also collected by other individuals with a sense of pride in the coin such as service members and law enforcement personnel and now members of G-Square Publishing.
Historically, challenge coins were presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit. They could also be exchanged in recognition of visits to an organization.
Modern challenge coins are made in a variety of sizes. There are several stories detailing the origins of the challenge coin. The Roman Empire rewarded soldiers by presenting them with coins to recognize their achievements.
G-Square Challenge Coins will be presented to our unwavering readers showing support for the G-Square message portrayed in our books.
People also exchanged them with friends and associates. The most common format was for one side to depict the patron while the other showed something that represented that individual's message.
According to the most common story, challenge coins originated during World War I.
Before the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy individuals attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term 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 about his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilot's aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was captured.
In order to discourage his escape, his captors 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 in avoiding patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines.
With great difficulty, he continued his escape effort. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. 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 him to be a saboteur and made 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 medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner: a challenger would ask to see the medallion, and if the challenged could not produce a medallion, they were required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued throughout the war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.
According to another story, challenge coins date back to World War II and were first used by the Office of Strategic Service personnel who were deployed in Nazi-held France.
While a number of legends place the advent of challenge coins in the post-Korean Conflict era (some as late as the Vietnam War), or even later, Colonel William "Buffalo Bill" Quinn had coins made for those who served in his 17th Infantry Regiment during 1950 to 1958.
The 17th Infantry Regiment "Buffalo" coin is the oldest challenge coin known in existence. On one side of the coin is a picture of a buffalo with the date 1812, which signified the year the unit was formed.
On the other side was the 17th Infantry patch with the dates 1950 – 1958 and the word Korea to signify the tour. The cross and fort icon represents the unit's heritage which started in Cuba during the civil war.
This coin is recognized as one of the oldest and most valuable challenge coins in circulation. Very few remain available and most are thought to be in private collections.
The challenge coin tradition has spread to other military units, in all branches of service, and even to non-military organizations such as G-Square and the United States Congress, which produces challenge coins for members of Congress to give to constituents.
Today, challenge coins are given to members upon joining an organization, as an award to improve morale, and sold to commemorate special occasions or as fundraisers.
G-Square will be proudly making coins available to members who have reached a particular milestone within the G-Square Clan.