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