545th Military Police Company
First Team’s Finest
Polar Bear’s Finest
As of January 28, 2012
Many of you older Cavalry MP’s have inquired regarding the Commanders Challenge Coins that are issued in the military these days and even a few of the younger active duty MP’s have asked about its history. The following history of the commanders challenge coins was taken from the Global Security.org web site:
“Military challenge coins are also known as military coins, unit coins, memorial coins, unit challenge coins, or commander’s coins. The coin represents affiliation, support or patronage to the organization minted on the coin. The challenge coin is a treasured and respected representation of the organization minted on that coin.
Commanders use specially minted military coins to improve morale, foster unit esprit and honor service members for their hard work.
On 25 March 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Elliott Sadler won the Food City 500 Auto Race at the Bristol Motor speedway, and said his good luck symbol will now be a four-star general’s special bronze coin. The coin Gen. Lester Lyles, Air Force Material Command commander, gave him during a visit to the pit area just before the race started proved to be the good luck he needed to take his first victory in 75 starts Sadler said.
Cpl. Stephen M. Roberts, machine gunner, B Co., 2nd Battalion, 187th Inf. Regt., received the battalion commander’s coin for actions 19 January 2002 in reporting the activity of six unknown persons who were seen jettisoning from their vehicle to stake out the perimeter. The 187th Infantry Regiment had just replaced the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit on the perimeter of the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan. The unknown suspects were about 350 meters from the perimeter fence when Roberts spotted them. He called to the Radio Telephone Operators, or RTO’s, who then sent out a patrol. The suspects escaped, but their planned mission was thwarted.
Challenge coin rules only apply to other individuals who also have a challenge coin. A holder of a challenge coin may “challenge” any individual who is known to have a coin. A challenge is made by withdrawing a coin and raising it in the air or by tapping it on a bar or table. The individual who is challenged is required to produce their coin within 60 seconds. If the individual produces the coin, the challenger is obligated to buy them a drink. If the challenged individual fails to produce the coin, they are obligated to buy the drink. The reward does NOT have to be an alcoholic beverage. It can be a soda or any other reward that the two individuals agree on. If a coin is dropped and it hits the floor, the owner is obligated to buy drinks for anyone who hears or sees the coin hit the floor (provided they have their own coin on them). Coin challengers are known to strike anywhere at anytime. They insidiously stalk the challenge; waiting for just the right moment to attack. An innocent bystander may never hear the challenge – only the chalengee’s despairing cry “….Ah ____! I forgot mine!”
According to one story, challenge coins originated during WW I. American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to all members of his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a leather pouch that he wore about his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilot’s aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man’s land. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in that sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot’s American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and on of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed the execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine. Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. And this is where the drinking challenge originates”
There is considerable documentation regarding the legality of these medallions and the expense or payment for them. For those of you that are interested, please refer to DA-PAM 27-50-3006, a copy of which can be found in the November issue of the Army Lawyer.
Now to the 545th MP Company Medallions! The first known Commanders Medallion in the 545th MP Company was struck when Captain Chris A. Cantrell was commander (May 1997 – February 1999) and here is an actual photograph of it:
Photograph of an actual 545th MP Co Commanders
Coin of Excellence
The shape of a dog tag was a good idea as if you wore it on your dog tag chain; you would never be without it and if challenged, would always have your medallion with you!!
The next form of a Commanders Challenge Coin for the 545th MP Company was cast when Captain Ian Townsend was commander (March 2003 – September 2004)
And here is the photograph of an actual coin.
And here we have an actual award of the commanders coin of excellence by CPT Ian Townsend to SPC Broderick (Mechanic), CPL Martinez (Supply), SPC Hutton and PFC Kellogg (both of 1st Platoon), Baghdad, Iraq, 2004
And then we have our very own Association Challenge Coin as depicted here below:
On 14 August 2008, during the reactivation ceremony for the 545th MP Co. CPT Sam Reinert accepted this Challenge Coin from the PMG, BG Rod Johnson on behalf of the 545th MP Co Association
This is the front side of a specially minted coin which was presented to CPT Sam Reinert, CPT Brian Sullivan and the PMG by LTC Hunt, the BN Commander of the Arctic MP BN at Ft Richardson after the reactivation ceremony on 14 August 2008. This coin is 4 inches in diameter and is very heavy. LTC Hunt stated that it was a big coin for a big MP Company!
This is the reverse side of that very large coin
Here we have the most current 545th Challenge Coin which was minted for issue and presentation by CPT Mixon and 1SG Dementer and first in use in Iraq 2010
Proposed New Version of the Association Challenge Coin which now has to be recast as the unit now has a new patch and motto
Here above is the new 545th Challenge Coin and they used a little forethought on this one and inserted the793rd Crest instead of the shoulder patch (which seems to constantly be changing lately)
On 20 September 2010 during the Smith Range Dedication at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, these coins were presented to the members of the 545th MP Company Old Timers honor Guard by LTC Felices of an MP BN located in Japan.
Anyone having any additional information, photos or corrections, kindly forward them to
CPT Sam Reinert
Founder and CEO
545th MP Co Assn
765 962 4627 phone & FAX