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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.

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.

On his way to a permanent prisoner challenge coins 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 challenge coin 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.

Published at: Recent Health Articleshttp://recenthealtharticles.org

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