For sale: challenge coins for Marine wives


Occasionally we come across a military-related item that just makes us curious. Today, it’s these “Marine wife” coins that are widely available online, wherever challenge coins are sold.

As all Marines learn early on, a challenge coin is part of military unit identity. Technically, all Marines are supposed to carry their unit coin at all times. If you are “challenged” by another service member and don’t have your coin, you owe the other guy a drink, according to the accepted rules.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps has an elaborate oblong coin featuring his signature. Other top officials, such as the secretary of Defense, also have distinctive coins. For a junior Marine, meeting one of these leaders and receiving a signed challenge coin is worth some bragging rights.

That brings us to challenge coins for Marine wives. Versions we found proclaimed  “once a Marine wife, always a Marine wife,” and “I love my Marine.” One that appears to be intended to be given to spouses thanks them “on behalf of a grateful nation”  for supporting their service member.

“Once a Marine wife, always a Marine wife,” says this challenge coin.  Source: The Corps Store


“I love my Marine.” Source: eBay

Source: eBay

Lately it has become popular to make fun of military spouses for getting too caught up in the military hierarchy. The Duffel Blog published a satirical story about a Pentagon proposal to assign ranks to spouses, ranging from “Spouse Recruit” to “Chief Master Spouse.” Terminal Lance has hit the topic a few times.

That said, military spouses do frequently go above and beyond the call of duty to serve troops and their military communities–peruse the biographies in this list and you’ll be impressed.

So–do Marine Corps spouses deserve their own challenge coins? Have you ever given or received a spouse challenge coin? And what does “once a Marine wife, always a Marine wife” mean? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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  1. I am a bit surprised at how Army-fied the Marine Corps has become and continues to become. Coins? That is an army tradition – my son is an army SFC and gave me a school circle on the topic. I understand wanting to encourage esprit de corps and a sense of belonging but why not use existing Marine traditions or create new ones without copying the army? Come on, we have lots of smart jar heads that can do better!!!!

  2. @CWO JR, Ret

    Let’s use some critical thinking Sir! Sourcing a SFC’s word in his little school circle and believing it to be true has me saying “Come on, we have lots of smart jar heads that can do better!!!!” I would like to see somebody bring out some solid facts on this topic. Separately, the Corps is not Army-fied. The same differences exist between the two that has always existed, the lines do not blur. Has it changed since you retired? Yes! Is that a bad thing? No! Why? The Corps is evolving to be relevant in modern times, without change, the Marines would not be effective. Is today’s Marines like today’s Soldiers? Hell no, i’ll take a Lance Corporal any day over a Army Sergeant, night and day difference. Kill!

  3. You’re all forgetting the most important part of this. NO ONE in the Marine Corps, except for POG’s, actually carries challenge coins anyway. You want someone to buy you drinks, be a Marine, they’ll buy you drinks. No need for that flopping jewelry on the table bs… That’s about as manly as wearing a pinky ring… Semper.

  4. Semper Fi 84-89 on

    Military tradition? Granted I’ve been out 20 years but I never heard of a challenge coin before this, never saw one in five years in uniform. If it’s a tradition it’s a pretty new one and frankly sounds like a stupid one. I’m not sure how this is the Corps “evolving to be relevant in modern times.”

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