The Challenge. The Line. The Sacrifice.
Here is my favorite version of the history of the Challenge Coin. In WWI a particular Allied squadron all wore the same bronze medallion. Some pilots just carried it in their pockets like coins. One of them was shot down behind enemy lines and captured. He later escaped and was captured by his own allied forces. With no identification, he was going to be executed as a saboteur, but one of the officers recognized his medallion. Since it saved his life, the squadron decided they should have their medallions or coins on them at all times. To enforce this, if someone issued a challenge to see your coin/medallion and you could not produce it, you had to buy them a drink. If you did have your coin, they had to buy you a drink.
This tradition has been carried from the military into the Fire/EMS/Law enforcement arena. Black Helmet Apparel is proud to continue this tradition..... Especially since someone got me at the last FDIC!
Just as your helmet is not merely a piece of equipment, a challenge coin is not only a token but also a tangible source of pride for America’s soldiers, firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel at every level in the chain of command. Commanders use them as on-the-spot awards. Senior military leaders often dole out their coins as gifts to foreign dignitaries or civilian VIPs.
Coin checks are still a part of military life, and various punishments are still handed out for those found without their coin. (Some cruelly choose locations apt to yield a victory. Rules commonly followed specify that the coin must be carried at all times; neither shower nor latrine exempt one from producing his coin.) But it's only ever happened to me at the bar.......