Pop Culture

I Fought For You

Larwyn sent me this, and I decided to share it.  As a thought, take the time to talk to some of the younger generation, share with them a world they can't even begin to conceive, and show them what it took to get from there to here.  Those that know not history are indeed doomed...


Legacy Ride- we reach Milwaukee!

Main floor for the Legion Convention in Milwaukee. 10,000 members will attend We finally reached Milwaukee!  1400+ miles later, gorgeous weather the last 2 days, and a police escort you wouldn't believe, and we're at Legion Post 537 for the conclusion of the ride. 

We left Stevens Point, WI at our usual 8am kickstands-up hour, and had a very leisurely ride into Milwaukee.  The weather was about 72 degrees when we arrived; a far cry from the 90's when we left Indiana.  It was very brisk in the morning- I actually had to get out the fleece jacket I brought just in case Minnesota got cold enough.  It sure enough did. 

When we hit the outskirts of Milwaukee, we paused at a Harley Davidson dealership for about 15 minutes while the constabulary set up road blocks ahead.  By the time we re-entered highway 94 heading into Milwaukee, there wasn't a car on our side of the road.  Every car was held back while officers from 8 different districts escorted us to the Milwaukee Legion post.  No trucks, no idiot lane-changers, no merge horrors.  Just wide-open, clear freeway ahead for about 20 miles.  And cops at every interchange.  Suppose this is how PBO feels on his way to a speech?  This stretch of freeway was cleared to both announce the 'arrival' of the Legion for Convention Week, but also to keep the riders safe thru some difficult stretches where we could have been separated and lost. 

At the conclusion of the ride, another lunch was held, and we then went our separate ways to hotels.  I'm currently holed up in the Hilton in downtown Milwaukee.  At this point, I'm impressed with the riverfront downtown.  But, I do notice that traffic is nearly non-existent, even on a Friday afternoon. 

I'm also guest-blogging over at Burnpit, where Mothax keeps info for the Legion.  I'll be linking back to my posts there as the convention goes along.  There are several really good surprises going on this week- so stay tuned as I look in on the largest veterans-advocacy group in the nation.  Oh, and I cannot forget to mention our really good friend Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette will be along as well- Mothax, Grey and I linked up yesterday and I'm looking forward to catching up and furthering and growing our world media empire. 

Also, be sure to check out the videos and pics over at the Legion Riders site- they've put together some amazing footage.  Too bad those guys had to ride around in a cage during the ride- if that were me, I'd be jonesing for a bike in a bad way.

Ride Notes-

    -One of the riders along with us I called 'Bungee'.  This rider, who shall remain nameless, had some issues with throttle control.  He could not maintain position in the formation- he was either running up, or dropping back, out of position.  He just could not ride with someone at his 4-o'clock.  Back and forth. Back and forth.  Luckily, we got used to it and gave him some more room.  Somebody said he was a former helo pilot and flew exactly like that...

    -I had a chance to meet the REAL 'Mr Wolf'.  WO1 Wolf, to be exact, of the Iowa National Guard.  See, for those who don't know it, Warrant Officers can be addressed as 'Mr.' in the military.  Especially WO1 rank, as they've not yet acheived 'Chief Warrant' status and don't get called 'Chief'.  Nice guy, too.

Mr. Wolf meets... ''Mr. Wolf''

    -Be sure to hover over the pics for their descriptions- it's easier to tag them that way. 

    -This business, below, could only be found in Missouri.  Yeah, looks just like the kind of place I'd like to eat.  But, which is on the menu, and which is not?  Can you really tell the difference?  And if I have to explain frog gigs...

Yes, they also sold beer and liquor... who would bet otherwise?

    -The road in Wisconsin was like glass most of the way.  Hiway 29 was fantastic- little traffic, very little construction, and the road was like new.  Had it been winding two-lane, it would have been perfect.

    -I mentioned in a previous post about the ceremony with the 5-star Freedom Riders- go look at this video and tell me what you think.  If you can pull away from it.  It's a mandatory viewing- they begin at :50 seconds into it.

    -Remember, EVERY rider in this 400 person group was a veteran.  NO non-veterans rode in the group.  All were also Legionnaires; starting the ALR group in the Legion has brought more new members than any other activity.  I hope you'll consider joining me next year!

Enjoy the pics below!


Downtown Effingham, IL held a fantastic lunch. The town square was packed with bikes

A special Rolling Thunder air cleaner cover...
Yes, he was Navy. Next question...
'Poor man's GPS'. This is how we kept track from one segment to the next. REALLY worked well, and was far safer than electronic ones.
Downtown Albert Lea, MN. Nearly the whole town turned out, and many local dignitaries. This is just before the riders came in...
Downtown Albert Lea, MN. Packed with bikes and bikers. See that aerial ladder? Yeah- a fireman climbed and took pics. Hope to get some.
Boyd, WI Legion hall. These guys were heroes- first non pulled-pork meal in a week!

Legacy Ride Continues... and some corrections

I'm still out on the road following the American Legion Legacy Riders on their trip to Milwaukee.  Due to some 'technical difficulties' (read: no internet) in the hinterlands of Minnesota, I've not been able to post the last segments, so I'll take up here and catch up.

ALR rider's bikes CAM_0143
As I posted before (here and here) the ALR is riding to collect for an education fund for the sons and daughters of the fallen.  What I incorrectly stated was some of the totals involved- so to correct that, I got some info from the top.  To date, the American Legion, as a whole, has collected over 4.1 million towards the fund goal of 20 million.  They have been giving out money to the families for education, and still have that much remaining so far.  The riders themselves have collected just over 1.2 million, and as of this writing had collected just over 191k on this year's ride.  There is more than that in total for the year, but those will be announced during the upcoming convention.  Either way, it's STILL a VERY impressive bit of work to help the kids.

Now, on to the ride- which is going fantastic.  Our previous day's rides were during hot, humid, disgustingly sweaty days between Indianapolis and Kansas City.  Today's ride started out cold, but then became gorgeous.  The roads thru Minnesota and Wisconsin were ribbons of glass compared to I-70.  Surprising, considering it gets far more winter weather up in these parts.

Iowa National Guardsmen and women greet the riders for lunch at Camp Dodge Yesterday we rode into Camp Dodge, Iowa, home of the Iowa National Guard.  As a former member of the Iowa Guard, I spent time there in Camp Dodge about 20 years ago; I was floored by the changes and upgrades.  FORT DODGE is more like it.  We were warmly welcomed by Legionnaires from Iowa and the Iowa Army National Guard commander.  Former Legion National Commander David Rehbein passed out food to the riders as well. 

A true surprise were some performances by a bagpiper, and a ceremony by the ALR 5 Star Freedom Riders.  I'll put up video of these performances as soon as 'technical difficulties' are fixed- the are CERTAINLY worth the wait- the Freedom Riders ceremony was outstanding and a fitting tribute to the fallen.

 After we finished in Iowa, we headed into Minnesota, and boy what a welcome for veterans was on hand there.  Starting at the state line, every bridge into the state had banners and American flags flying, with people waving and shouting support at the riders.  Our last leg for the day ended in Albert Lea, MN, with the whole town done up.  This was, by far, one of the greatest shows of support we'd experienced so far.  They were thrilled to be able to see so many veterans and riders come into town.  I hope to get pics from the fireman who was a few hundred feet up in the air on a ladder truck, snapping photos of the event.

Minnesotans greet the riders from bridges We woke this morning to unseasonably cold weather, and I'm glad I brought the fleece.  Fleece?  Well hey, we were going thru Minnahsotah, dont'cha know... and I know it can be cold ANY time of the year.  Yeah, that haul paid off.  (And Thursday morning bodes to be even cooler). 

Ride notes:

    -Some of the 'non-American bike' riders made a request to be able to start their bikes before the Harley's do.  Seems they can't tell when their bikes are running after the Harley's kick in...

    -Getting to meet quite a few veterans from all over; most of these guys are in their 60's and 70's; their stories are great, and I'll share a few soon.  They've given quite a bit to the servicemen and women of today; patches from Vietnam, Germany, and other places are everywhere.  Plenty of stories to go with those patches, too.

    -Many of the posts are dwindling due to the ages of the members.  But that doesn't diminish the histories of some of these posts.  One we visited today, Post 326 in Brody, WI, has just such a history.  A former 'bunker' that was also a cheese factory on the site, it's now also a community meeting house with about 70 active members.  A very comfortable place in the heartland of America.  If you really want to see what 'America' is like, just look at places like the legion posts.  You won't find places anything like them in NYC or LA; it's true Americana in a small building.  They are some of the most welcoming places on earth.

    -We were able to tour the Harley Davidson engine and bike factory outside Kansas City.  A first-hand look at how 'the parts equal the price' of the bikes (that's yours, Grim!)  Best.Job.On.Earth.  Now, if they can find a way to squeeze that V-rod engine into a Ultra Glide, I'll take one NOW.  Of note was the fact that in the employee area, not only did they have a huge American flag flying, but the service flags from every service were hanging.  These people are committed to veterans, for certain.  And no, there were no free samples...

    -Logistics: if you REALLY want to understand what it takes to do this ride, just watch the riders go thru a fuel stop.  This, this is where you can see how the military backgrounds of members breeds efficiencies.  Some people have showed up at stops just to see it in action. Here is how it goes:

Advance team briefs the fuel stop 

Riders fuel and get a payment amount. Riders fill own tanks.

Riders pay a 'collector' after pumping; this helps speed up process
An advance team arrives at a pre-determined fuel location, and sets up operation.  4 or so fuel islands are set aside (only certain places will work due to the size of the group; there has to be enough pavement to accommodate all the bikes after they fuel) and riders are queued up in lines; as riders pull up, they open tanks, then pull to a pump.  There, a volunteer attendant hands the pump to the rider (we have to fuel our own bikes) and after filling, calls out the number to a 'writer' standing behind.  That writer calls out the total to a collector; after the rider fills, he rides up to the collector, and pays for his gas.  ALL the pumps for riders are pre-paid; that is, one credit card is run thru all the pumps used and a running total is kept.  This saves a lot of time.  Another neat trick is that if you pump 5.40 of gas, you are charged 6.00.  The 'extra' is used to pay for chase truck fuel and other needs to support the ride.  Using this method, they can fuel all 350+ bikes in usually under 30 minutes.  By the end of the ride, this gets very quick to do.

Tomorrow, we end up with the ride's conclusion in Milwaukee- and the convention.

ALR Legacy Ride: Day One

Photo(3) Ok, just into the hotel from 13 hours on the road, riding from Indianapolis to Higginsville, Missouri.  What.A.Ride.  The American Legion Riders Legacy Ride.

First day jitters are always evident, as everyone seemed to be at the anointed starting place at least an hour earlier than necessary.  Post 64 on the west side serves as the customary location; they didn't disappoint this year either.  Good road breakfast, everything set to line up, and kickstands up at exactly 0800.  Can you tell these guys were in the service?

Now, you may be asking yourself why I'm pimping this ride, and the Legion in general.  Okay- I'll tell you. 

Four Million Dollars.

That's right- Four.  Million. Dollars.

No, that's not my 'writing fee' for this (although, Mothax, I could use it) but what the Legacy ride has generated IN ONLY 5 YEARS.  That's right.  A bunch of motorcycling gearhead veterans, mostly retired, has generated FOUR MILLION since the first ride took place.  Last year was over 680k.  The first night before the ride- over 120k in that one night alone was generated.

What does all this go for?  What is the goal here?

The goal is to raise an endowment based on 10 million in donations.  With that, they will have enough for a fund to run nearly in perpetuity to serve..whom?

This is the good part- this, is what the FOUR MILLION will do- help the sons and daughters of those fallen in the GWOT and their educations.  And those sons and daughters of those who will fall in the years to come.

This is an amazing accomplishment in such a short time.  Many, many Legion halls have a Rider contingent; the primary task for those Riders is to work raising funds thru local rides and events, and bring awareness to their areas.  What better way than do do it doing something you love to do anyway?

Listen, another reason I'm doing this is to raise awareness of service clubs to the those who read B5, and may not know much about them.  I'm talking to all you GWOT vets out there- yeah, at 24 or 25 this don't seem like much, but let me tell you- they need you, WE need you, and it's more fun and family oriented than you'll ever realize (until you join!)  So take a look- even if all you do is ride, on behalf of the Legion, you'll be giving back a ton to your community.  That's all I ask...

Now, some notes on today's ride:

    -Nearly 500 riders took off from Post 64 at 0800 this morning, and hit the road.  EVERY bridge, EVERY town, EVERY location was waiting for us to pass thru or by.  It's incredible the support that America has for its veterans.  On the Ride, you can experience it like no other way.

    -This ride's most notable participant is National Commander Clarence Hill.  For the first time in the 5-year history, the National Commander will ride the ENTIRE ride from Indianapolis to the Convention site.  Given how busy these guys are- that is an incredible feat.  Riding his own bike, too.

    -My sympathies to those in Indiana- your roads suck west of Indianapolis.  I hit some real kidney killers; any lighter a bike and I would've ended up in a ditch.  When we hit Illinois?  Glass.....

    -Missouri drivers hate giving up road to bikers.  Or groups.  They suck in every inch of road like they own it.  Several times line-cutters trying to dive in front of bikers nearly wiped them out.  We do under the speed limit, and we still have to ride deathly cautious at every merge point.  It's truly sad.


    -Effingham, Illinios greeted us for lunch- blocking off the entire downtown to fit all the bikers in order to get into the legion hall.  Gorgeous area, bunting and flags on the buildings. 


    This is what we see when we ride- fertile, green fields nearly ready for harvest; thick, congested rows of corn just waiting for the harvester; the smells of farms along I-70.  Only on a bike, can you take this all into your senses.  Not your air-conditioned 'cages' traipsing up the freeways.  We ride hard, we ride tight, and we ride safe.  But see America we do.I can't wait for the next 4 days.


Now, if I can ever get the proper CABLE for my HD camera, I'll share some better pics and videos.  Yeah, I love technology..

Oh, and the bike- to remind you, I'm riding a 2010 Ultra Glide Classic.  A Sunglow Red color.  It is fantastic.  The power-on-throttle is intoxicating; the stability and smoothness must be ridden to be believed; this is NOT your fathers Harley.  Even after riding all day, I'm feeling really good, minus the sun and heat effects.  I've got tons of room for all my stuff, and the balance is so good I don't even notice I'm loaded.  Tunes, cruise, and power.  I want for nothing else...

Tomorrow, we'll learn about my ride leader.  Yeah, this you gotta see...


Ready to Ride...

Its that time of year again- time for the American Legion National Convention.  This year, it's going to be held in Milwaukee, and when you think of Milwaukee, what do you think of?

Right. Beer.

No, wait.  MOTORCYCLES.  Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  American made, rumbling modes of transportation that make the journey the destination.  This year, I get a chance to partake in the annual Legacy Run from Indianapolis to Milwaukee.  By way of Kansas City.

Photo(6)Kansas City?  WTH?  Well, seeing as how we could be in Milwaukee in just a few hours from Indy, it wouldn't make much of a ride to go directly there from here.

So, we'll be riding via St Louis, KC, Des Moines, Minneapolis, then into Milwaukee.  About 500 of my closest friends will be joining us on the ride, and I'm going to be covering it for my good friend Mothax from the Legion's blog BURNPIT.  And rumor has it another good friend, Greyhawk, will be in the area.

I'll be riding a 2010 HD Electra Glide Classic, provided by IndyWest HD here in Indianapolis.  Terry/Thomas, you guys rock.  Got me in and out of the dealership in style and class aboard a great bike.  Now, can you lower it about 2 inches for me?  This squaty-body which is inseam-disabled is not enjoying trying to foist this thing around parking lots.  BUT, it is a damn good ride.  If you have the means for one, I highly recommend it; it's choice.  

Photo(5) I'm in Indy now, getting ready for the Ride that starts on Sunday.  I arrived yesterday, after traveling from Denver via Chicago.  I have to tell you- travel has changed so much since my days as a consultant.  Some thing I noticed on the trip out:

    -Pajamas seem to be the new norm for travel.  Or, what appears to be pj's.  I half expect coffee cups, slippers and a paper is all you'll need to board a plane.  Does anyone wear any, you know, actual CLOTHES anymore?

    -At age 50 or more, mohawk haircuts cease to be a statement.  To the Dude on the plane who was AT LEAST 52 with the mohawk and chin tizzler- shaved head is far cooler and relevant.  At least get a leather jacket man.

    -Women who show belly, or wear mid-riff t's should not have bellies that flop over their sweats.  On a plane.  Nuff said.

    -American was the airline- had one of the very best take-offs from Denver I've ever experienced, and I've done quite a few.  But to that Attendant on that Denver-Chicago flight- time to retire.  When you refuse to help old ladies with handbags 'cause 'it's not in the union rules' you need to go.  That was the worst line ever uttered by an attendant.

I can't wait to get on the road.  And get to the convention.  I'll be writing, similar to last year, about the guests who show, and what is going on with the nation's largest veteran organization.  While the Ride is going on, I'll try to capture all the towns we go thru- I hear its quite a commotion.  C'mon out and witness it. The links above have our route and approximate times.  I'll be the only one with China Post #1 patches on- and I believe the only from Colorado on the ride.

Paint-side up, rubber-side down.  See you on the road...



I See How It Is

So, apparently Newsweek is in a tizzy about some contest by Right Wing News called "The 20 Hottest Conservative Women."  They said something about how it was a double standard, even though RWN did the same thing for right wing men (somehow missing Gold-Pants-Jimbo as a candidate); and even though it's perfectly reasonable to have a double standard when you're dealing with two very different kinds of people.

Nevertheless, we're going to have to have some words about this little event, because what do I see at the top?

We had a new distinguished panel of judges. Besides myself, they included,

1) Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit.

2) Jonah Goldberg from National Review.

3) Andrew Malcolm from the LA Times' Top of the Ticket.

4) Dan Gainor from Newsbusters (Among other places).

5) Van Helsing from Moonbattery.

6) Alfonzo Rachel from PJTV.

7) James Joyner from Outside The Beltway.


8) Blackfive.

Not a WORD did he let slip about this opportunity to his compatriots.  Just as well, I suppose.  You'll always have Paris, Matty.

NOT Forgotten nor Faded


A review of the new Pacific series on HBO in the NYT today includes this line:

''Those battlegrounds became famous, but they have since faded from the collective memory in a way that the Normandy invasion or the London blitz have not. This is an overdue but fittingly painstaking and lavish tribute to men who were never supposed to have been forgotten.''

Forgotten?  Faded? 

Not by far.  Not by those who have duty in their blood.  Not by those who pass over the footprints at Quantico or San Diego.  Not one of these have lessened what was sacrificed at these Pacific battles and struggles.

Maybe 'forgotten' by those who can live better lives now due to those sacrifices.  Maybe 'faded' by those who can sit in judgment of those who serve; those that have no sense of duty or honor and don't understand how this is passed from one generation to another. 

No.  We remember.  We understand.  THIS is what separates us from the fools....

We have been having discussions around Tom Hank's comments recently where he said our treatment of the Japanese was because they were 'different'.  If what he said was accurately portrayed at that link, it, too goes to show that those who have never served, never understand.  No matter WHAT other activities they do...


Vote MATT and vote often!


Today, Tuesday, February 2 is THE day.  The day Matt Burden, Candidate, gets to hear your voice.  The day we need EVERY voter in his district to show up and VOTE MATT.  (BOTH of you, hear?).

Help us help Matt.  He needs your support, he needs your vote.  Spread. The. Word.  More men in like Matt is what we need in office.  If you want to see his other posts on this, go here



Matt burden logo

Blackfive Blackout: MilBloggers Supporting CJ Grisham (UPDATED CONSTANTLY)

FOR TODAY,  Wednesday 16 December 2009, many if not most, fellow milblogs -- including This Ain't Hell, From My Position, Miss Ladybug, Boston Maggie, Grim's Hall, and those participating in the Wednesday Hero program -- are going silent for the day.  Some are choosing to go silent for a longer period of time.

The reason for this is two-fold.  First, milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military.  While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept.  From general apathy in not wanting to deal with the issue to outright hostility to it, many commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others.  The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters.


The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective (http://www.soldiersperspective.us/).  C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues -- particularly PTSD.  In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this.  Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.

An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times:
While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career. 

One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place. 

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public.  They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic. 

On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it.  Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington. 

Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day.  All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December. 
The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion.  We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter.  Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within. 

A Partial List of Participating Blogs:

NOTE: there are more in the comments, so be sure to check there as well!

Confederate Yankee - http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/
This Ain't Hell http://thisainthell.us/blog/
Boston Maggie  http://bostonmaggie.blogspot.com/
Blackfive  http://www.blackfive.net/main/
Miss Ladybug  http://miss-ladybug.blogspot.com
Drunken Wisdom - http://www.beerbrains.com
Grim's Hall  http://grimbeorn.blogspot.com/
Frommyposition  http://frommyposition.com/
CDR Salamander - http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com
LL - http://chromedcurses.com
Mothax - http://burnpit.legion.org/
Lia - http://homefrontsix.blogspot.com/


World Net Daily
AND- this one

Hugh Hewitt - http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog/g/74a9d1ff-e847-40d1-a397-5308dc99f516
Glen Reynolds - http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/90141/

Never, EVER forget Mudville Gazette....

Sniper - http://www.thesniper.us/?p=5510
Concrete Bob - http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/2009/12/for-cj.html
Tanker Babe - http://tankerbabelc985.vox.com/
Wyatt Earp - http://supportyourlocalgunfighter.com/
Some Soldier's Mom - http://somesoldiersmom.blogspot.com/2009/12/milblogs-go-silent-protest.html
Ace - http://ace.mu.nu/archives/295914.php
United conservatives of Virginia - http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/
Great Reader JihadGene - http://jihadgene-greatreader.blogspot.com/
Chuck simmins America's North Shore Journal - http://northshorejournal.org/
Mike St. Jacques The Sniper - http://northshorejournal.org/
WOTN - http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2009/12/milblogs-go-silent.html
Michelle Malkin - www.michellemalkin.com

Two cartoonists join in!


Check them out as well...

If you wish to donate to CJ's defense fund, please use the following address, or click the link below.  He's in a serious battle against a serious foe.  Read the article to find out all about it.

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893

Please write "Grisham Legal Fund" in the memo line if you use this option.
Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you.  Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without.  Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it.  Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.
The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways.   Without your help, the battle may well be lost.

Mr Wolf

Challenge Coins (UPDATED!)

SecDefRum I recently ran into some interesting info online, and was wondering what the Blackfive readers had experienced.  All in regards to challenge coins.

For those that are not familiar, challenge coins are coins that are handed out by commanders, sergeants-majors, units, and others as 'mementos'.  But that was not their original usage- while many units have varied histories around challenge coins, most will agree that it originates from WWI when a downed pilot used it to verify his background.  From that point forward, the unit had everyone carrying a coin in a pouch around their neck.

Coins really took off in the Vietnam era, and many from that conflict are quite valuable- ones from MACV-SOG or other specialized unit are especially coveted.  During my trips over there, I was not able to secure a 'real' coin but fakes are readily available.

Coin usage nowadays is not for combat; its for camaraderie.  Any place, ANY time, a person holding a coin can issue a challenge; showers too!  Those not able to reach their coin buys the round; those holding the HIGHEST RANK of coin gets rounds purchased by the others.  IF, in a challenge, everyone comes up with their coin, one of two things can happen- either the LAST person producing the coin buys, or the challenger buys, depending on local/unit tradition.  Personally, I'm never without a 4-star coin, ever.  My most 'valuable' one is a Rumsfeld.  He's known for having been especially strict on giving them out.  Never, EVER challenge Blackfive.  He's known to carry a Presidential one.  Can't.be.trumped.

How do you acquire one?  They are given as a 'reward' in many cases, similar to an award, but much less formality involved.  Presenter places one in their palm, shakes hand of the recipient, and transfers the coin.  This is the only TRUE method.  You can, indeed, buy most if not all coins (even a Rumsfeld, but they are expensive, and fakes are numerous) but only those given and received in this traditional manner are really worth anything.  My favorite coin was given to me by an Admiral in Iraq- his first coin, and his first coining, in theater.

One of my favorite challenge stories was in the summer of '86 in Camp Grayling, MI.  The 101st Airborne provided some companies to act as OPFOR in the training areas, and when we came out of the field phase the usual nuttiness followed at the O' and NCO' clubs on post.  One night, a particularly attractive lieutenant (from my guard HQ) appeared in the O' club on Grayling.  For those who've never been there, to me, this is THE BEST officers club on any facility.  She walked to the bar in the back of the club, slammed down the 101st Commanders Coin, and hilarity ensued when the guys from the 101st, who were mostly in the back of the room, bulldozed their way to the bar to slam their coins down.  Over tables, over people, over everything to get to the bar in time.  The place was PACKED, and damn, no one wanted to be last or without.  No one was expecting HER to coin the 101st.  I don't think the place settled down for the rest of the summer after that little stunt.

You got a good challenge coin story?  Share it in the comments.  I've got dozens of stories of coining in Iraq.  Joint Chiefs chairman GEN Myers dumped an entire SLEEVE of his coins into the cargo pocket of a unit Sergeant Major to give out to troops on his behalf.  I don't know what made that SGM more nervous- watching the Chairman do that to him, or the fact he was carrying 5 pounds of coinage in his pocket.

Drop a story or two into the comments..


Some coins that were sent in: (story to follow in the comments)


And someone sent in their favorite collection of Air Force coins: