The Challenge Coin
The Challenge Coin has a long tradition. A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion, bearing an organizationís insignia or emblem and is carried by the organizationís members. They are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. The PWCARES Challenge Coin logo was designed by David Lane, KG4GIY with the help of Symbol Arts, who also did the manufacture.
As the legend goes, a wealthy lieutenant, ordered small, solid-bronze medallions (or coins) struck, which he then presented to the other pilots in his squadron as mementos of their service together. The coin was gold-plated, bore the squadronís insignia, and was quite valuable. 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.
A short while later, this pilotís aircraft was heavily damaged by ground fire (other sources claim it was an aerial dogfight), forcing him to land behind enemy lines and allowing him to be captured by the Germans. The Germans confiscated the personal belongings from his pockets, but they didnít catch the leather pouch around his neck. On his way to a permanent prisoner 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 crept across no-manís 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 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 pilotís identity.
Once the pilot safely returned to his squadron, it became a tradition for all members to carry their coin at all times. To ensure compliance, the pilots would challenge each other to produce the coin. If the challenged couldnít produce the coin, he was required to buy a drink of choice for the challenger; if the challenged could produce the coin, the challenger would purchase the drink.
PWCARES Challenge Coin Wall of Honor
The Prince William County ARES®/RACES Challenge Coin was instituted in 2009 as a way of rewarding members of the cadre who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, or for those that have aided the cause of Amateur Radio. Anyone may be nominated to receive the Challenge Coin and the final award is at the Emergency Coordinator's discretion.
|Kathy Simmons, Prince William County Office of Emergency Management: Kathy has been awarded the inaugural coin for her outstanding and unflagging support of PWCARES since joining Prince William County. It is a Thank You that was long over due.|
|David Meola, KI4AZX: David built up and managed the successful 2009 Simulated Emergency Test exercise Where's Waldo almost single-handedly.|
|Linux Journal: The 2010 Linux Journal was focused on Amateur Radio. They are also hosting a virtual Ham Shack.|