Challenge Coins

Informant Background:

This informant is a Junior at USC in the Naval ROTC program. he considers himself the typical college boy and often enjoys attending the numerous parties around campus.


Informant’s Story:

“Something I know that a lot of people do in the navy, but I’ve seen frat guys do too is the whole “challenge coin” thing. Challenge coins are, like, these large coins that represent a group or person. There’s normally, like, some design with the group or persons name on there. Anyways, the way challenge coins work is that you always keep a challenge coin on you for when you go to the bar. If someone starts tapping their challenge coin on the counter, everyone else has to too. The last person who takes their coin out, or if they just straight don’t have it, they have to buy the next round.”



The Challenge coin is a tradition held very near and dear to the U.S military, though no one loves the game more than navy chief petty officers. Challenge coins are created for every unit, and high ranking military officials. This can range from a small platoon, to an entire command. As it turns out, from the informant’s story, this practice is beginning to take hold in non-military organizations as well, namely frats. Many theories exist as to the origin of the challenge coin, the oldest one being WWI, where it is said an American pilot was shot down over france and was subsequently stripped of all valuable items,by Germans as they thought he was dead. All except a coin with his squadrons insignia. Eventually he met a group of french who thought him to be German. Having no ID, he held up his coin to which they recognized his squadrons insignia. Instead of giving him an execution, they gave him wine.