Coins and ships cut from the same steel

Department of Defence

Challenge coins are a unique part of military heritage.

Dating back to the Roman Empire, these small coins or medallions bear the insignia of a unit and are carried by unit members.

They are referred to as challenge coins, as when encountering a stranger, one may issue a ‘challenge’ where members must prove they are a part of the unit and present their coin.

This proof of identification has evolved over the years to represent the close esprit de corps of a unit and the physical embodiment of unity.

Within the United Sates military services, this tradition is prevalent and a cherished part of their customs and culture.

So when members of the Royal Australian Navy Guam Deployment Maintenance Team (GDMT) looked to reciprocate this gesture of openness and welcoming when presented with a coin by a US Navy member, it proved a real challenge.

But with challenge comes opportunity, and with resourcefulness and creativity on their side, the team – led by Officer Commanding Fleet Support Unit GDMT Lieutenant Joseph Melbin – came up with a solution.

“We decided that rather than simply design and have someone else make a coin for us, the members of the team designed a coin and used materials from our own ships and workshops to make our own Fleet Support Unit coins,” Lieutenant Melbin said.

“While not as pretty as the coins that some units have, there is a real sense of pride in being able to give out coins designed and manufactured by our members, which are cut from the same steel as our ships, to the new mates we were making while underway.”

Following a live radio interview on ABC Darwin show Mornings with Rick Hind and 360 with Katie Woolfe from Mix104.9, Lieutenant Melbin gifted the presenters with his rare challenge coins as a thank you for having him and his US Navy counterpart, Lieutenant Commander Tyler Brown, on the show. Both men also gifted the presenters a patch.

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