Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Coin

Unit coins - sometimes called commander coins - are part of the military tradition of reward and recognition. They're clunky things with the unit insignia on them, handed out as a sort of pat on the back whenever someone does something good. It's less official than a medal (it's not going to show up on your record), but more personal as well. The lower level coins are handed out like candy, and Kirk must have had eight or ten. Upper level coins - above company grade - are much rarer and far more difficult to come by.

Naturally there's a further tradition associated with them. The idea is that in a bar one person will pull out a coin in challenge. Everyone else has to pull out theirs; the one without a coin buys the round. If everyone has a coin, the challenger buys. Of course, a company coin will get you out of buying the round, but it's not going to impress anyone.

I wish I could tell you the story about how Kirk got his Coin, but I don't know it. I know it happened in August 1991, I know it had to do with the attempted coup against Gorbachov. Kirk used to laugh and say when we were old he would be able to tell me all the stories, once the 50 year limitation had run out.

What I do know is that in a bar in Alaska, Kirk's coin trumped three full colonels and a two star general.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Comparing unit coins, "my coin is bigger than your coin."