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'Coining' Against Terrorism

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2002 – Commanders use specially minted military coins to improve morale, foster unit esprit and honor service members for their hard work.

A new Combating Terrorism coin does all this and raises funds for the children of special operations warriors who are killed in the line of duty.

The coin project came out of the Special Operations- Combating Terrorism office in the Pentagon in the fall of 1999, well before Sept. 11, 2001. It was the office's way of spotlighting the Defense Department's role in the war on terror.

At that time, all portions of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict concerned with combating terrorism were put in one office. The chief wanted a coin that epitomized the office's mission. Ed Rowe, Paul Will and Jamie Bowling got the call.

Design ideas percolated through the group. "We decided to go with simplistic elegance," said Rowe, assistant for policy coordination in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism.

They decided on an American eagle, with talons outstretched, swooping down on the word "Terrorism." In the background is the American flag. The obverse side of the coin is the Department of Defense seal.

"Simplistic elegance isn't an easy thing to achieve," said graphic designer Bowling. "We spent a lot of time getting the eagle and flag just right."

The group finally approved a design and sent it off for a proof strike. Made of lead, the proof coin came back to the Pentagon on Sept. 7, 2001. Rowe and company admired the coin, and he put it on his desk before going on leave.

On Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 hit near Rowe's office. Ceiling tiles came down, electrical lines arced and furniture was thrown around. Water used to douse fires further damaged the offices. The coin fell off Rowe's desk and was buried under debris in the office.

Once workers were allowed back in, they found the lead coin covered with grit and dirt and particles, but still looking good. "We thought, 'Now we really have a good time to release this coin,'" Rowe said.

The coin is available at www.strikingimpressions.com for $12.50. The company donates 25 percent of the profit from the coin to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The foundation has established a fund to provide for the education of the sons and daughters of special operators killed in the line of duty.

The DoD office is, of course, just one of the entities fighting the war on terrorism. The office allows legitimate agencies to use the eagle design with their own agency crests on the back. Steve Barker, president of Striking Impressions, said the State and Justice departments and various Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard units have taken up that offer.

"The Air Force took some of the coins with them on bombing missions over Afghanistan," Barker said.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe new Combating Terrorism coin created by the Defense Department's Special Operations-Combating Terrorism office features an American eagle, with talons outstretched, swooping down on the word "Terrorism." Photo by Jim Garamone.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe DoD seal is struck on the new Combating Terrorism coin created by the Defense Department's Special Operations-Combating Terrorism office. Photo by Jim Garamone.  
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