The David Burnell Velvet Hammer Challenge Coin

"If you received one of these from me that I think “You Are Good People”. This is an award of honor and is based on a tradition that goes back to World War I. The coin you have received comes from a rich military culture and history. It symbolizes mission, friendship and respect." - David Burnell

My coins have been laid all over the world to include Afghanistan, Iraq, Arnhem Holland (Operation Market Garden WWII, buried by a grave of an Unknown Polish Soldier), Bastogne Belgium (Battle of the Bulge WWII, buried by Easy Company’s location), Buried on Omaha Beach in France at Dog Green Sector, One is buried at a grave of an unknown U.S. soldier at the National Cemetery on Omaha Beach. I even got permission from the National Park Service to place one inside the visible smoke stack of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. As you can see the challenge coin carry a legacy.

These coins are carried and treasured by warriors around the globe as tokens of trust and friendship. They are in the pockets and pouches of warriors as they defend our freedom abroad and on our city streets.

The Symbolism of The David Burnell Velvet Hammer Challenge Coin

  • The emblem includes a global circle that includes all people.

  • The background red and white stripe are the international dive flag representing David's significant water experience and missions.

  • The dagger represents his extensive involvement with special operations missions and forces.

  • The snake represents the medical services rendered.

  • The stars represent that we can reach far beyond our personal limitations.

The History of the Challenge Coin

During World War 1, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in midterm to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the pilots’ 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 all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification.

He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed noman's land. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his wouldbe executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner a challenger would ask to see the medallion. If the challenged could not produce a medallion, they were required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued on throughout the war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

Since that time military units, law enforcement and even corporations have struck coins with their symbols as tokens of trust, friendship and alliance.

With warm regards,

David Burnell

The Challenge Coin Video

This is a short explanation of what the challenge coin means.