Challenge Coin – PRoof of Authenticity

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Challenge CoinAbbie recently shared a story with us about a random act of kindness that turned out to be something quite special.

She had stopped to pick up some breakfast and noticed a table of a dozen Navy men and women enjoying their meal. She decided to buy them some cookies to thank them for their service. They were, of course, appreciative, but then their commanding officer came over to present her with a coin representing their fleet. There are a limited number produced and only given out in special circumstances. And yes, it made her cry.

At Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Camp, one of the longtime campers is United States Air Force Col. Brent Vosseller, currently serving as chief of the operations integration cell-Turkey.  He annually presents the rookie campers with a coin and provides the USAF’s background on “challenge coins.”

“What you have received is called a challenge coin and I will give you a brief history as well as some rules of engagement.  Back at the onset of the United States' entry into World War I, flying was a novelty usually only undertaken by aristocrats due to the cost.  So when the first flying squadrons were stood-up, several of the pilots from wealthy families desired to commemorate the occasion with the minting of coins emblazoned with their squadron's emblem and distributed to all the other pilots. 

Not long after the commencement of hostilities, one fighter pilot had engine trouble while on patrol over enemy territory and had to bail out.  After absconding with some civilian clothes and making his way through the front lines, he was apprehended by several French soldiers.  The Germans had been sneaking across the lines and conducting acts of sabotage in civilian clothes, so the soldiers were ready to shoot this guy who spoke in a funny way and had no way to prove he was on the Allied side.  The pilot remembered his coin and showed it to the soldiers.  One of them recognized the squadron emblem and decided to check the identity instead of killing the intruder on the spot, as were his orders.  The squadron confirmed it was the missing pilot and he was returned to his unit.  From then on, the rule was to keep the coin with you at all times, and if challenged and found without said coin, a round of cheer to the challenger would the infractor owe.”

I carry my challenge coin with me at all times.  I know Abbie will do the same, not only to ensure a “round of cheer” but as a tangible reminder that doing a good deed is always a good thing.



Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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