The purpose of the Challenge Coin is to instill camaraderie, pride, a sense of unity, and a connection to our department. The coin reminds us that we are not alone in our endeavor to enforce the law. It also serves as a reminder to each member of our department that other members are supporting each one of us, both on and off duty, through good times, difficulties, and the sometime tragic events that we face in our lives and in our chosen profession. We hope to create a tradition to show our respect for our profession and for all of those who have served the Freetown Police Department before us. Therefore, the holder should treat the coin with respect and honor as it reflects the values of commitment to our community, the courage to face dangerous situations, and compassion to those in need.
History of the Challenge Coin
During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges, such as Harvard and Yale, who quit mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a Lieutenant ordered medallions struck on solid bronze carrying the squadron emblem for every member of his squadron. He carried his medallion in a pouch around his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallions, 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 his uniform and all personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck not realizing the significance of the coin.
Taking advantage of a bombardment one night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification. He succeeded in avoiding German patrols and reached the front lines. With great difficulty he crossed no-man’s land and stumbled into a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs who often masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes had plagued the French in this sector. Not recognizing the young pilot’s American accent and since he had no uniform or any form or identification, the French thought he was a saboteur and planed to execute him. Just before he was to be put to death he remembered the coin in the leather pouch. He showed the coin to his would be executioners. His French captors recognized the squadron symbol on the coin and delayed his execution long enough to confirm his identity whereupon they shared a bottle of wine with him. They were challenging him to prove that he was a friend and not a foe, and the coin saved his life.
Una Stamus: “We Stand Together”