Military coins are used to raise funds for projects and
occasions, to memorialize a unit or service, to commemorate
special events or operations, to recognize participation or
achievement, and to identify unit members or senior officials.
The distribution of military coins enhances comradeship, improves
morale, and builds unit cohesion.
When made available, organizational members should acquire
several military coins for personal use. Whenever someone has
worked successfully with members of other units or services, it
is polite to exchange coins out of mutual respect. A replacement
coin should be acquired as soon as possible upon return so as to
remain prepared to match any challenge, or to further reward
Military-style coins, as used by active duty and reserve
components, paramilitary and veteran groups, are generally
impersonal and unnumbered, with their rarity wholly based upon
the limits of their production run. Some commissioned coins have
been commercially imitated, so small manufacturing details may
help to differentiate authentic specimens or date the contending
examples. Serially numbered or dated coins, called challenge
coins, conveniently eliminate any confusion over precedence.
Supplemental coins, such as foreign currency or related coins,
may not be substituted for the military coin to be matched during
The tradition of placing a coin in the mouth of the deceased
before burial derives from the pagan rite of paying for passage
into the After-Life. The practice of leaving unit or message
coins on enemy corpses, like death cards and patches or
other insignia, is somewhat eccentric, due to the replacement
costs and limited availability of appropriate coins during
battlefield operations, but some novelty coins (eg: hunting club,
varmint license, 72 virgins dating service, etc) have been used
in this manner. When carried into the field, precautions must be
taken to avoid noise and reduce weight. Possession of such
provocative items, especially if captured, can generate dire
consequences, since America's foes have never been renown for
their forgiving nature or lighthearted attitude.
It should be noted that it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or
deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of
commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than
that of U.S. coinage. Military coins are artifacts, and shall not
be represented (slugs) as a legitimate medium of exchange.
For the purposes of a coin check, a
coin is a two-sided military medallion
or paramilitary token that has been manufactured in some durable
material (typically metal, but not exclusively) that displays
some raised or impressed design consisting of images, symbols,
letters and/or numbers. Its size, shape, weight, consistency,
composition, piercings, edge treatment, facial finish, or general
condition is not disqualifying.
Although coins are traditionally disk shaped, many are
now irregular and enameled. The coin, or its
representation, on a ring, necklace, bracelet, key chain, watch,
lighter, belt buckle, money clip, plaque, trophy, coaster, or
ashtray constitutes an artifact that does
not technically qualify as a
coin for the purposes of this challenge.
The coining game consists of a coin challenge and a
coin check ... a procedure not unlike the routine
password ritual of challenge and response, except for
the absence of checkpoints and hostile fire, at least in most
situations. Anyone may confront anyone else, regardless of rank,
during duty or off-duty hours, inside or outside, on or off the
base or reservation, in order to ascertain if their coins match.
Persons standing guard, marching in formation, operating a
vehicle, or otherwise obligated are exempt from coining; however,
anyone sleeping, undressing, relaxing, or otherwise uncommitted
may be duly bidden, with all appurtenant consequences.
Such a coin contest may be individual or general, and must
stipulate the stake or ante to be paid if the coins do not match.
As with other tournaments, the initial wager may be raised by
mutual consent until the increase either reduces competition or
determines a winner. The stake may be a round of beverages, a set
of exercises, a sum of money to be donated to a worthy fund, or
any other fee or toll.
It is customary for the challenger to display his coin, by
holding aloft or by open-handed palming or by slamming onto a
nearby surface, while loudly proclaiming its identity and
announcing the terms of the encounter. Striking the top of a desk
or table, a helmet or even the engine hood of a vehicle, with
enough force so as to leave an indelible impression of the coin
is considered to be déclassé, and will be assessed
a substantial penalty, including confiscation of the subject
If a coin is inadvertently presented to public view, as
when mixed with pocket change or dropped on the floor, any
bystander may issue the challenge on behalf of the coin's owner
... thus obligating him to the terms declared for the game. This
is the penalty for improper handling. Because the spectator has
the option of making or of not making the challenge, such a
declaration is usually a ploy by the onlooker to benefit from the
contest without risk. This provision for accidental
coining is intended to control the display of military coins,
confining the game to appropriate settings.
As long as at least one other person in the affected group can
match the challenge coin, the person or persons who cannot match
that same coin are the losers, and must pay off the wager. If
everyone in the group can match the coin, then the challenger may
up the ante by adding another coin to the contest while
increasing the payoff ... which escalation may continue until
there is finally a loser. If everyone in the group can match the
coin, and the challenger cannot add another coin to the
contest, then the challenger is the loser!
Supplemental coins may include rating or qualification coins,
project or operation coins, variants or foreign coinage. Coins
that do not substantially match the challenge coin are invalid.
The proffering of unit coins outside that unit may result in
embarrassment, humiliation, or other untoward eventualities.
Anyone pretending credentials or eligibility by misrepresentation
will be subject to summary chastisement. Any attempt to
pass a counterfeit coin, except when obviously novel or
ribald, may generate unfortunate results, not the least of which
is impoundment of the fake coin.
If the challenger identifies a particular coin, and nobody can
match it, then the challenger loses, and must
payoff to the group. This provision exists to prevent someone
from creating a unique specimen that will always triumph because
it is a solitaire. Military coins represent participation, so a
one-of-a-kind coin does not convey comradeship.
Military coins are unofficial, and are subject to
periodic redesign as unit membership changes over time. A
legitimate coin may be represented by several different
design treatments, hence the requirement to exactly match the
coin presented. An exception to the regular rules, for the
purposes of upping the ante, is to respectfully yield preeminence
to the oldest pattern or the lowest number, which reinforces a
shared lineage. Any coin that has been personalized with the
owner's name or assignment, an operational unit or location, and
the like, shall only be considered distinguishing when all other
factors of a generic coin are equal. Presentation of a rare or
exclusive coin, such as skill qualifications or award recipients
(including Medal of Honor society members), shall conform to the
same rules as more commonplace coins. Discriminating coin
qualities, such as metallic value, are only germane if all other
factors are equal, and such prominence is advantageous to the
assemblage ... it is otherwise a minority affectation that loses
against the majority. Coining is intended to reinforce
in-group membership ... not reward irregularity or
Other than those exceptions already cited, there are no
exceptions to the coining rules, and there are
no privileged characters. Anyone coined who
fails to respond to the challenge, or who refuses to payoff the
terms of the wager, is a despicable rotter and contemptible
scoundrel, whose name shall be posted for all to scorn, and who
shall be universally shunned. If possessed of any military coins,
these shall be expropriated in partial redress.
It is highly recommended that nobody ever be without his