Your Norwich University Challenge Coin
The History of the Challenge Coin
There are a number of stories about how the challenge coin came to be. However, there is one story on the beginnings of the challenge coin that is arguably the most popular and well-known. As the United States built up its armed forces during World War I, young men from across America volunteered to serve. Some of these volunteers were wealthy. Among these wealthy young men, one new lieutenant ordered medallions struck in bronze and presented them to members of his unit. One recipient placed this medallion in a small leather pouch he wore tied around his neck. On a mission soon after receiving the medallion, this pilot’s aircraft was badly damaged by ground fire. Forced to land behind enemy lines he was captured by a German patrol. To discourage escape, his captors confiscated all of this personal identification, leaving the small pouch. The Germans took the pilot to a small French town, near the front where during a bombardment, the pilot managed to escape.
Donning stolen civilian clothes and with great difficulty, he crossed the “no man’s land” and reached the front lines and stumbled into a French outpost. Unfortunately, the French manning the outpost did not recognize his American accent and detained him with the intent of executing him as a saboteur. Lacking identification, the young pilot remembered his medallion. One of the French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion, which bought him enough time for the French to confirm his identity. Instead of an execution, he was given a bottle of wine. Upon return to his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times.
Challenge coins have been an American military tradition for nearly a century. In units around the world, military personnel carry, collect and trade challenge coins. More than an interesting tradition, challenge coins signify exemplary service, shared sacrifice, and unit spirit, which is why this Norwich challenge coin is one of the many keepsakes you’ll cherish for life.
Remember, a coin challenge can be initiated at any time. Don’t leave home without it.
Expect Challenge. Achieve Distinction.