All About Military Coins

In this article, we will discuss relevant information about military coins. After reading the article, the reader will be informed of the relevance of these coins, how to acquire them and an overview of the origins of these coins. Likewise, their other uses, aside from being challenge coins, will be given attention.


Military coins are medallions or coins possessed and carried by military personnel inscribed of which, are their units’ insignias. Aside from the patches in their uniforms, the coins also serve as their identification. Their commanding officers, in appreciation of their meritorious performance or achievement in their missions, usually give the coins. The coins also serve as souvenirs in exchange of other units’ coins. Moreover, these signify not only the identities of units and members, but also the camaraderie among the group. These items also serve as morale boosters for soldiers.

Origin of the coins

Military Coins

There is no clear information as to where and when military coins originated. However, it was said that during the Roman Empire, these were already given to Roman soldiers who performed well in battles. It was also mentioned that during the First World War, a rich squadron commander gave out coins to his pilots before flying their missions. After the Second World War, American soldiers conducted penny checks using German coins as challenge coins.

Likewise, during the Vietnam War, military officers gave out coins to soldiers for accomplishing their missions, that is, in lieu of live bullets that became risky and a little controversial during those times – risky because of possible accidents and controversial because of the connotation that those bullets are to be used by the bearer for himself, instead of surrendering to the enemies.

The coin challenge

There is no specific rule in the coin challenge. Each unit may author their own rules in challenging holders of coins. Members of different units may challenge each others coins. A challenger may commence a challenge anytime and anywhere, but most likely where soldiers are hanging out like bars or night clubs.

A challenger loudly announces his challenge by banging his coin on a table. If a soldier or anyone challenged will not be able to show his coin, then he is obliged to buy drinks for the challenger. However, if those challenged will be able to show theirs, it is the challenger’s turn to buy drinks for them. As a rule, deformed or mutilated coins are not allowed to participate in a challenge.

Coins in lanyards are also prohibited from joining a challenge. There are other rules of challenge that may include stealing of coins or comparing them according to ranks. If a person succeeds in stealing a challenge coin, members of the group are obliged to buy him a drink. In a challenge, members of a group are obliged to buy a drink for the person holding the coin with the highest rank.


How the coins appear

Who would not want to own coins made of gold? There are those made of bronze, copper, brass, silver, or even made of 24 carat gold. Moreover, colored coatings make them attractive and epoxy coatings make them scratch-proof.

Other Uses

Aside from using the military coins for challenges, they are given out as rewards. Soldiers with exemplary military service are awarded coins in appreciation of their performance. As a tradition, military officers in their tours of duty usually give the items to soldiers whose performance still lack merit for an official medal. Awardees of these coins carry them with pride. However, giving out of coins is not limited to military personnel. Military officers also give these to civilian recipients for their outstanding service to the community.

Challenge or no challenge, these already have a place in military history just like the men of valor carrying them. In war and peace, the role of these coins is irreplaceable.


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