Military Coins in Pop Culture: A Proof of Challenge Coins’ Significance for Servicemen

Posted on by Frank Smith

military coinsChallenge coins are among the most popular memorabilia distributed to military servicemen. While non-servicemen can’t wrap their heads around the concept, handing out military coins has been a tradition for many troops, with other countries adopting the practice. Aside from stories, pop culture can also serve a proof that this tradition exists.

Military Challenge Coins in Amazonia

The novel “Amazonia” is the most popular literary work that showcases challenge coins. Although the coin only appeared in the novel’s prologue, author James Rollins introduced how a challenge coin gave way to identifying an American former Special Forces CIA who have been missing for ears.

Coins in Criminal Minds

One of the long-running US police-themed series, “Criminal Minds” showed how military coins can be used for its characters’ investigation procedures. Special Agent Derek Morgan, a fictional Behavioral Analyst, used a coin to initiate communication with a boy. The boy remained mute and socially withdrawn after experiencing a kidnapping incident. Agent Morgan rolled the coin on the floor to catch the boy’s attention. The story behind the coin also served as encouragement for the traumatized boy. Morgan handed the coin to the boy towards the end of the episode then returned to his office to get another coin from a set he had on display.

JAG and Challenge Coins

Earlier generations that grew watching television would know “JAG” as a long-running adventure series in the US. In one episode, a couple who both served in the military used a retired superior’s challenge coin to decide who will retire from their current position. The retiring spouse will then need to accompany the other to a new duty station. The coin was flipped then the screen froze, leaving the viewers thinking about the outcome.

Unit Coins in Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous

“Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous” is a comedy film starring Jessica Simpson. She portrayed a luck-deprived actress who decided to find a new career by enlisting in the US Army. In the film, Simpson’s graduating class received military coins as memorabilia.

NCIS Coin Identification

An episode in NCIS aired in 2008 showed how the United States Navy Secretary used a coin for identification purposes. The secretary handed his coin to Tony DiNozzo then the latter shared his story about military coins. He said that a challenge coin serves as bragging rights for an individual who rubbed elbows with someone of high authority.

Coins in E-Ring

E-Ring is another popular series that highlighted the use of challenge coins. Colonel Eli McNulty handed a military coin to Samantha Liston, who was running to be Defense Assistance Secretary for special operations. A general, however, was trying to stop Liston from doing so by initiating a coin check. The general stated that Liston is ineligible from attaining a senior position due to her absence on combats. Since Liston doesn’t have a coin then, the general proved his point about her eligibility.

Chase’ Challenge Coins

An episode of Chase, another police procedural series, showed how a challenge coin can be important to a person. The episode first presented Deputy US Marshall Annie Frost who owns a challenge coin and brings it with her all the time. Luke, a new Marshal team member, shared his frustration about not owning a challenge coin. Good for Luke as he got coined at the end of the episode.

Military servicemen and those in the police force consider military coins as valuable treasures showcasing their actions in the field. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of organizations still distribute these coins as memorabilia, graduation gifts, or as mementos to commemorate fallen members.