COIN CHECK RULES

  1. Challenge is made by displaying coin on a hard surface.
  2. Response is made by displaying coin on a hard surface within 10 seconds of Challenge (+ / - 30 seconds).
  3. Unsuccessful response obligates you to the challenger for the drink of their choice.
  4. Successful response obligates Challenger to the drink of your choice.

Military Coin History

The U.S. Military has a longstanding list of traditions. One of the lesser-known traditions is the Military Challenge or Unit coin.

During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in midterm to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze carrying the squadron emblem for every member of his squadron. He himself carried his medallion in a small leather sack about his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallions, this pilot's aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German Patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans 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 donned civilian clothes and escaped. However, he was without personal identification.

He succeeded in avoiding German patrols and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land. Eventually, he stumbled into a French outpost. Unfortunately, the French in this sector of the front had been plagued by saboteurs. 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. Just in time, he remembered his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners. His French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion and delayed long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back with his squadron, it became a tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through a challenge in the following manner, a challenger would ask to see the coin, If the challenger could not produce his coin, he was required to purchase a drink of choice for the member who had challenged him. If the challenged member produced his coin, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued throughout the war and for many years after while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

Among elite units, the tradition is prevalent to carry some type of device which readily identifies unit members, past and present, and also provides the opportunity for an inspection of the unit's esprit de corps and purpose.

The military coin, minted in a number of metals, including sterling, is approximately 1 ½ to 2" in diameter. The coin carries the motto's or slogans of the particular unit manufacturing it. In addition to any official motto is usually a likeness of the unit flash or crest.

Nearly every Special Forces unit has minted its own version of the coin; however, the 10th Special Forces can be credited with fostering the tradition for a unit coin. In July 1969, Colonel Vernon E. Green, Group commander, designed and had manufactured the 10th Group coin. On the obverse, or front, is the inscription: "10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 1st Special Forces." In the center of the coin is the Trojan Horse crest, the original SF crest worn during the 1950s, and below, the words "Trojan Horse." The reverse side is inscribed with the Special Forces motto "De Oppresso Liber" and "The Best."

Once the 10th Group coin was minted, the tradition began, calling for each Group member, past and present, to procure and carry a coin at all times. In addition to active or former Group personnel owning coins, they have been presented to friends and foreign Special Forces soldiers at the close of joint country training, as momentos.

The actual history of the challenge initiated by one unit member to another by demanding to see his coin varies greatly. According to legend, the original coin check was done only by the senior man present, who did it for the sole purpose of ensuring each man's team spirit (in which case, all would be carrying a coin). The purpose of this drill was to check morale.

Nowadays this is primarily a dare, by extracting the coin and slamming it down onto the tabletop or tossing it to the floor. The loud "ping!" produced by the bounding coin is a challenge to all present to produce their coins, or end up buying a round of drinks. This method of the "coin check" is the most prevalent today.

There have been many attempts to established a set of rules for the coin challenge to ensure uniformity. Regardless of any "coin regulation," most prefer to carry their coins, not only to show their pride with their, but also to save money on drinks they may have to buy if caught without it.

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