The history of navy coins dates back to ancient Roman times when soldiers were awarded coins as a symbol of honor and recognition for their bravery in battle. Over time, this tradition has evolved into what we know today as military challenge coins.
Just like any other branch of the military, the United States Navy has its own unique and fascinating collection of coins. This article will look closer at the top 5 most unique navy coins that tell intriguing stories of bravery, camaraderie, and patriotism.
1. The Shellback Coin
Similar to the Blue Nose coin, the Shellback coin is also given to sailors who have crossed into another significant line – the equator. This tradition dates back to ancient maritime lore, where it was believed that crossing the equator was only possible with the help of the sea god Neptune.
Sailors who have earned this coin are part of an exclusive club known as “Shellbacks” and are considered seasoned sailors, having been initiated into the mysteries of crossing the equator. Different designs of the Shellback coin can be found, each with its unique interpretation of this maritime tradition.
2. The Blue Nose Coin
The Blue Nose coin is among the oldest and most iconic navy challenge coins. It is given to sailors who have successfully crossed into the Arctic Circle, earning them the title of “Blue Noses”.
This tradition started in the early 20th century during World War I when sailors had to endure harsh conditions and extreme cold while on duty in the Arctic. This most popular navy coin symbolizes endurance and strength in adversity.
3. USS Arizona Memorial Coin
Navy coins also serve as a memorial for significant events in naval history. The USS Arizona Memorial coin is a tribute to the 1,177 sailors and marines who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
This coin features the iconic image of the sunken USS Arizona battleship with an American flag flying above it, surrounded by waves and inscribed with “Remember Pearl Harbor”.
4. The Lone Sailor Coin
The Lone Sailor coin symbolizes sailors’ intense bond and commitment to serve. It features the iconic “Lone Sailor” statue at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This coin is often presented to sailors who have shown exceptional dedication and courage in their service. The Lone Sailor represents the thousands of men and women who have served. These military challenge coins are a reminder of the sacrifices made by sailors and their families for their country.
5. Navy Chief Petty Officer Coin
The Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO) coin symbolizes the rank and leadership within the U.S. Navy. It is given to those who have earned the title of CPO, which is considered one of the most prestigious ranks in the Navy. The navy coins often feature the words “Pride, Professionalism, and Leadership”, which embody the qualities of a CPO.
This coin is presented to new CPOs during their initiation ceremony, known as the “pinning ceremony”. It is a time-honored tradition where senior enlisted sailors welcome their new CPOs into their ranks.
Learning the Stories Behind Navy Coins
Navy coins hold significant historical and emotional value for those who have served in the U.S. Navy. Each coin tells a unique story and represents pride, camaraderie, and sacrifice.
Navy coins serve as cherished keepsakes for those who have answered the call to serve their country at sea. As the saying goes, “Once a sailor, always a sailor”. Fair winds and following seas!
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