08 April 2015

FREE 'Unofficial Anecdotal History of Challenge Coins'!

Creator of the daily web comic "Schlock Mercenary" Howard Tayler, along with editor Sandra Tayler and the rest of Tayler Corp., released this week a unique collection of stories about challenge coins. The 32-page "Unofficial Anecdotal History of Challenge Coins" (U.A.H.C.C.) is available FREE as a PDF that can be downloaded here and here.

In the U.S. military and other organizations, challenge coins are used to informally commemorate relationships, missions, and good jobs done for the cause. Coins aren't as highfalutin or formal as a medal, and they're not useable as cash, but they're great souvenirs and conversation starters. In some unit cultures, they can also be used to win free drinks.

A quick description of the project reads:
[The UAHCC] is not an authoritative attempt to codify the rules of coin challenges, nor is it a scholarly treatise creating an historical narrative. It is a collection of stories that are similar to the sorts of stories you might hear if a bunch of people were sitting around at the bar one night draining pints and talking about challenge coins. We've done our best to present these stories in a way that respects the various challenge coin traditions, and pays appropriate tribute to those who have served.
Some personnel prize their coins more highly than other military mementos. Because each one comes with a story.

For example, military-fantasy writer Myke Cole writes in a few closing words to the UAHCC: "[T]here are times I don’t feel capable of doing good, don’t feel equal to the work necessary to pull good off. The coin sits on my rack, a glittering reminder of the good I can do when I really try."

Coin from Iowa National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.),
34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT) deployment to
Eastern Afghanistan, 2010-2011.
The project even mentions 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division deployment history! On page 24, the writer of the Red Bull Rising blog tells the story of arriving in Afghanistan in 2010-2011 as civilian media, and how the presentation of a unit coin played out in a humorous mix of tribal welcome, homecoming, and unexpected hugs.

Someone also called him a puppy.

Howard Tayler writes the introduction to the UAHCC, and punches up the action with a few cartoon illustrations. All are right on target. While Tayler is not a veteran himself, his storytelling always manages to capture the cozy, good-natured camaraderie of serving with others in uniform, while chaos and armageddon are danger-close.

The antics and sayings of his misfit band of space mercenaries are much celebrated in some military circles. His ongoing list of "70 Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries" begins with rule No. 1: "Pillage, then burn." No. 2 is "A Sergeant in motion outranks a Lieutenant who doesn't know what's going on."

No. 3 is "An ordnance technician at a dead run outranks everybody."

Maxim 2/3 coin available at www.schlockmercenary.com.
The UAHCC was initiated as a stretch goal in Tayler's successful challenge coin Kickstarter campaign in 2013, which raised $154,294 on an original goal of $1,800. (See a Red Bull Rising mention of that project here.) Many of Tayler's words have since been captured on challenge coins, and the UAHCC project seems a particularly appropriate bit of thanks and payback to his military fans.

For more information on the UAHCC, or to contribute to later updates, the Schlock Mercenary website advises: "Please direct all inquiries to schlockmercenary [AT] gmail.com, and include the unpronounceable acronym 'UAHCC' in the subject line. We welcome submissions, hosting updates, suggested changes, and requests for source."

Howard Tayler, creator of "Schlock Mercenary," sent these greetings from GenCon 2011.

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