Custom military coins for the Navy can be considered as vital reminders of the courage of America’s seagoing forces. The Naval service was first organized in 1775, when the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy, which then consisted of a few ships with Esek Hopkins acting as the commander-in-chief. While challenge coins did not play as vital a role in the history of the Navy as they did the Air Force, recipients of these custom coins still use them as a remembrance of the service’s core values of Honor, Commitment and Courage.
In the Naval service, custom military coins can be used in a number of ways. The most common way is to act as a reward for exemplary performance, where the coin serves as an “Attaboy!” for the sailor. In addition, challenge coins can be given upon completion of basic and officer training as well as by the unit commander upon completion of a tour of duty. The recipients of these coins see them as a proud possession and a sign of accomplishment and usually prominently display their coins in a case. Unless they are still in active service, however, they usually do not carry their coins around unless there is a chance they will be “challenged”.
Challenges are drinking games wherein one of the holders of a challenge coin throws it on a table or on the floor and other recipients must display their coins as well. The ones who cannot display the coin must buy a round of drinks. These are the basic rules although the actual ones may vary slightly depending on the holders. For example, those who don’t have coins may be passed a spare one to spare them.
While the “challenge” of using custom coins is reportedly a proud tradition among holders of challenge coins, some veteran soldiers deny that such a tradition exists since they have never encountered it. Others say that it does exist but they themselves have personally never encountered it, usually because they don’t go into bars or officers’ clubs. Whatever the truth, it is clear that there is some kind of tradition around challenge coins from which they get their name although they may be different depending on the unit that distributed them.
At present, custom military coins for the Navy and other branches of the military continue to be popular, as seen by the many challenge coin minters that have sprouted, some of which are run by actual military veterans. These services make ordering challenge coins easy since they help design the coins by providing assistance from professional designers. Once the final design of the coin has been determined, you can order the number of coins that you want, from a handful to bulk orders.
With advanced technology, challenge coins can also be given features that would have been unimaginable in the past. For example, the faces can be embossed with three-dimensional designs and text that make them look more like a medallion than a traditional coin. They are also available in a variety of metal styles and finishes, ranging from antique gold challenge coins that are meant to look like heirlooms, to shiny silver that resembles a newly-minted coin. Most of all, challenge coins no longer need to be round since custom designs can be chosen, such as coins in the shapes of badges or anchors.
Custom military coins for the Navy and other military branches will continue to be an important tradition in the years to come. And as they are easier and cheaper to produce, expect more commanding officers and units to use these coins as badges of honor as well as ways to build morale and team spirit among their men.