“Awarded on the Occasion of Becoming an Airman in the World’s Best Air Force” is the wording on the front of an original USAF airman’s coin. The reverse contains the words, “Excellence in all we do, Integrity First and Service before Self.” Representing the accomplishment of becoming an Airman, the coin is typically the beginning of many Air Force squadron coins that are collected by members of the United States Air Force.
Designs may have Changed, but the Meaning is the Same
Although the first airman’s coins featured an eagle, a new version now contains the Air Force Symbol in its place. This symbol was introduce in 2000 and is based on the “Hap” Arnoldwings from World War II. The design is representative of the Air Force’s present day abilities as well as future proficiency and adeptness for protecting this country’s freedom. A number of squadron coins today have this symbol as well as the name of particular Air Force bases and squadrons.
Featuring a variety of other symbols in addition to the nike air force 1 tphcm symbol, there are several coins that contain the words, “veni, vidi, vici.” Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered”, this sentence signifies the accomplishment of a mission. Other coins may have an eagle and are given for dedication and the performance of certain operations groups.
No matter what the coin contains in the way of embellishment or wording, they are given in recognition for a particular act or membership in an elite group – the United States Air Force. Collecting the coins has become very popular and some are quite rare. One example is the Bull Dog coin. This coin was limited to B-52 tail gunners and is no longer given. The rarer a coin, the more value it has and the Bull Dog coin is highly collectible.
Speculation Surrounds the Origin of the Coins
The coins are made from an array of metals including brass, nickel, bronze, silver, gold and copper. There are many stories of the origin of these coins. One is that the first ones were given to members of a squadron by a lieutenant and they were made of solid bronze. Another story says the first coins were actually given to members of the Army Special Forces.
Irregardless of where they originated, these coins are collected by members of the military and their family. They are also collected by others, not just for their value, but due to the unique styles and designs of the coins. The coins are given to enlisted members when they complete basic training. They are given to new officers when they finish their training school. Other reasons for the coins to be given to members are as acknowledgement for acts of bravery performed even when it is not considered worthy of an official medal.
The reason for giving the coins may vary; however, the recipient knows the pride of receiving one. They also know that the coins represent the united cause of members of the Air Force as well as other military divisions.