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The Wann

TheWann formely known as the Airman in Iraq blog, since I am no longer in Iraq I decided to make this still for family and friends, with a wider stretch of thoughts for anyone else. 

Donate to the poor airman:
Thursday, October 20, 2005

4:05 PM - The Challenge Coin

--- Taken from About.com

Like so many other aspects of military tradition, the origins of the challenge coin are a matter of much debate with little supporting evidence. While many organizations and services claim to have been the originators of the challenge coin, the most commonly held view is that the tradition began in the United States Army Air Service (a forerunner of the current United States Air Force).

Air warfare was a new phenomenon during World War I, when the army created flying squadrons and manned them with volunteer pilots from every walk of civilian life. While some of the early pilots came from working class or rural backgrounds, many were wealthy Ivy League students who withdrew from classes in the middle of the year, drawn by the adventure and romance of the new form of warfare.

As the legend goes, one such Ivy Leaguer, a wealthy lieutenant, ordered small, solid-bronze medallions (or coins) struck, which he then presented to the other pilots in his squadron as mementos of their service together. The coin was gold-plated, bore the squadron’s insignia, and was quite valuable. One of the pilots in the squadron, who had never owned anything like the coin, placed it in a leather pouch he wore around his neck for safekeeping.

A short while later, this pilot’s aircraft was heavily damaged by ground fire (other sources claim it was an aerial dog fight), forcing him to land behind enemy lines and allowing him to be captured by the Germans. The Germans confiscated the personal belongings from his pockets, but they didn’t catch the leather pouch around his neck. On his way to a permanent prisoner of war facility, he was held overnight in a small German-held French village near the front. During the night, the town was bombarded by the British, creating enough confusion to allow the pilot to escape.

The pilot avoided German patrols by donning civilian attire, but all of his identification had been confiscated so he had no way to prove his identity. With great difficulty, he sneaked across no-man’s land and made contact with a French patrol. Unfortunately for him, the French had been on the lookout for German saboteurs dressed as civilians. The French mistook the American pilot for a German saboteur and immediately prepared to execute him.

Desperate to prove his allegiance and without any identification, the pilot pulled out the coin from his leather pouch and showed it to his French captors. One of the Frenchmen recognized the unit insignia on the coin and delayed the execution long enough to confirm the pilot’s identity.

Once the pilot safely returned to his squadron, it became a tradition for all members to carry their coin at all times. To ensure compliance, the pilots would challenge each other to produce the coin. If the challenged couldn’t produce the coin, he was required to buy a drink of choice for the challenger; if the challenged could produce the coin, the challenger would purchase the drink.

In reference to my count on the most asked questions for a Chaplain Assistant, I quit alittle after 10. but the good news of all of that is its been awhile since I was asked anything like that because I see the same people over and over for the most part!But ut certainly was and is over 10.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got linked to your blog from a Marine family email list...thanks for keeping us updated on what's going on with our troops in Iraq. And a very big THANK YOU for putting your life on the line for AMERICA! It is very much appreciated! Diana  

Anonymous Jeremy said...

I didn't think I'd be able to access this from work, but it turns out I can. It looks like you're doing well over there. It's pretty cool that you can communicate with all your family and friends this way and according to the last comment you're helping to get information out there. Nice job.  

Anonymous The Dad said...

Better have your coin at the ready when you get back. Dad is thirsty! Mom says Hi.  

Anonymous Trevor said...

Hey there, Sorry just now writing to you. Been kind of busy, with homework, practicing on your old trumpet, chores, etc...Also just making time to sit and READ what you been doing over there. Even though tried to call you a couple of times, before you left. When in Floida, got to see MXPX, and got their autograph again. You had us fooled with the "Newsweek" magazine. As we were reading, was talking how we needed to find it, then Mom read the last sentence. When do you get to come home? WE MISS YOU and LOVE YOU!!!  

Blogger Alex Smith said...

hi i dont know who you are but while sitting here at school i came across your blog. i am sixteen years old and both of my parents are in the military. my mom just retired but she had gone to afghanistan about 1 year or so ago. my dad is still in and he has been to israel and stayed for a long time! i cant even begin to show the amount of appreciation i have for people like you! i think what you are doing is absolutely great and i hope you are safe in whatever happens to come your way for however long you may be staying! im sure you are missed and loved by those that truely care for you here at home and they probably cant wait for you to come home!
safe wishes!
alex smith!  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Veteran's Day is November 11th and I hope that EVERY American will be flying the flag in honor of our troops fighting in Iraq and around the world to preserve our freedoms!

I can even tell you where to get one for free! Visit AmericanFlags.com right now and they'll send you a FREE American Flag. These flags were $19.99, but now they are FREE. You pay just for shipping/handling and they'll ship one to your door. (Actually - I've ordered more than 20 from them to give to my neighbors, as gifts, etc!)

Get your free flag now: **FREE AMERICAN FLAG**

Semper Fi!

Bill Adams  

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