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Surviving Air Force Basic Training

Airman’s Coin Ceremony

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Surviving Air Force Basic Training

Airmen receive their"Airman's Coin" - - one of the most significant events of their life in a ceremony held during graduation week.

Official USAF Photo

At around 1300 (1:00 PM) on the Thursday of graduation week, your flight will be marched to the Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT) for the Airman's Coin Ceremony, where you will be presented with the Air Force Airman's Coin.

After this event, you'll no longer be called a "trainee." You've earned the right to be called "Airman." Many airman consider this to be one of the most significant events in their career.

Your friends and family are invited to attend this ceremony. Details will be available at the reception center, and in the graduation notice that is sent to them a couple of weeks before your scheduled graduation. The ceremony lasts about 30 minutes, and is usually presided over by the Air Force Basic Training commanding officer.

A few words about military "coins:"

Military coins, whether commander’s coins, challenge coins, or unit and squadron coins, have become increasingly popular throughout the military.

Stories of where the custom originated vary widely. One of the most accepted traces it to World War I, when a wealthy lieutenant had bronze unit medallions struck for his squadron. As the story goes, a squadron pilot who was shot down and captured behind German lines ended up with nothing but that medallion to identify himself after his escape. Ultimately, the identifying coin ended up saving him from being executed by the French as a spy.

The squadron’s tradition of medallion or coin carrying continued, with “challenges” regularly made to ensure all members had theirs handy. A unit member who couldn’t quickly produce the medallion when challenged had to buy the challenger a drink. But if the medallion could be slapped down, the challenger had to buy.

Over the years, some units have continued this tradition. But more commonly, military coins have become a symbol of affiliation that’s used to boost morale, foster esprit de corps, and honor service.

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