3rd Infantry Division Commander’s Challenge Coin


The 3rd Infantry Division Commander’s Challenge Coin represents the traditions and pride of one of the oldest active duty combat divisions in the US military. Activated in November 1917, the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), nicknamed “The Rock of the Marne”, fought in France during WWI and Tunisia, Sicily, Salerno, before later invading Germany during WWII. Deployed to Korea in 1950 the 3ID saw some of the worst fighting in the war and became known as the “backbone” of the US presence in West Germany. In 2003 the 3ID was the first conventional force to enter Baghdad in Operation Iraqi Freedom.



In the case of this challenge coin, the obverse features the division’s mascot, “Rocky the Bulldog” holding a rifle with the banner of “3rd” at the barrel. Rocky was the vision of commander MG Albert O. Connor in 1965 that commissioned Walt Disney to produce the character for $1.00. Rocky is positioned on the coin in front of the 3ID blue and white patch. The patch features three blue diagonal bands on top of an all white field. The three blue bands represent the three major offensives/river crossings launched by the 3ID, the Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne before the armistice of November 1918. The white field symbolizes loyalty, steadfastness, and devotion to the principles of right and justice by the American soldier. [1][2]

Around the 3ID patch, the phrases “So Feed Me Ammunition”, and “Keep me in the Third Division” celebrate the division’s song, while “Disney 1965” marks the year Rocky was developed and presented to the division. Around the edge is a dark blue band coated in epoxy to protect “Outstanding Soldier” printed on the outer edge. Furthermore “Dog Face” divides the two previous statements and alludes again to Rocky. Finally, in the upper 2 o’clock position a small square  “chip” is taken out of the coin representing the bite Rocky took out of the coin. It should be noted that some fraudulent manufacturers attempt to over-represent this chip and make their coin grooved to represent actual tooth marks.



On the reverse, the coin is no less symbolic. The center of the coin displays a silver wyvern on top of a large silver rock face that pays homage to the 3ID’s proud WWI and WWII history of being referred to as both “Marne Men” and “Blue Devils” by their former German enemies. The three silver bans in the wyvern’s wings again refer to the 3ID’s river crossings. Across the bottom of the rock face is “Nous Resterons La”, or translated as “We Shall Remain Here”, was stated by the 3rd Infantry Division’s commander General Joseph Dickman in his stand along the Marne River near Chateau-Thierry in 1918. The wyvern holds the Gideon of the commander, in this case MG Buford Blount when the challenge coin was presented in 2003. [2][3]

Elsewhere around the outer edge of the reverse side is the same dark blue band protected by epoxy with the lettering “Third Infantry Division” and “Rock of the Marne”. The two phrases are separated by representations of the 3ID patch.

Alternate/Previous Versions

The current garrison design of the 3rd ID Commander’s Challenge Coin extends down to the Deputy Commander (DCG)  & Deputy Staff (DCS) both of whom hold the rank of a one-star general and full colonel. Pictured here is a set of the entire Command Group of the 3rd ID Challenge Coins (Note: the coin in the upper right is also the 3rd ID Commander’s Challenge Coin from the unit’s 2010 Afghanistan deployment).

3ID Command Group Set - Obverse
3ID Command Group Set – Obverse
3ID Command Group Set - Reverse
3ID Command Group Set – Reverse













Some alternate versions of the 3rd ID Commander’s Challenge Coin are predominately limited to deployment variants. This preserves the heritage of the garrison challenge coin, with its longstanding history and design, and allows deployed commanders the opportunity to present new and unique challenge coins specific to that deployment. One such example would be the 3rd ID Division Commander’s Challenge Coin in mid 2010 during its time in Afghanistan. It closely resembles the garrison coin, however offers some variant in design and coating. 











Likewise, here is the 2013 3rd ID Commander’s Challenge Coin during their deployment of the same time-period. Here the Commander changed the design to resemble the square striped divisional unit patch that highlights the 3rd Infantry Division’s history.











Works Cited

1. The Marne Express. “The Marne Express.” Vers. Vol. 2, Iss. 8. DVIDSHub. June 5, 2005. http://static.dvidshub.net/media/pubs/pdf_0039.pdf (accessed October 7, 2012).

2. 3rd Division & Society . 3rd Division Photographs. February 12, 2012. http://www.warfoto.com/3rdsocietyphotos3B.htm (accessed October 8, 2012).

3. 3rd Division & Society. History, Symbols, and Traditions. December 18, 2011. http://www.warfoto.com/3rdsocietyHistory.htm (accessed October 8, 2012).

4. Third Infantry Division. The Dog Face Soldier Song. http://www.stewart.army.mil/3didweb/Dog%20Face%20Soldier%20Song/DogFaceSoldierSonghome.asp (accessed October 7, 2012).


4 thoughts on “3rd Infantry Division Commander’s Challenge Coin”

    1. Pretty slim I.Hardy. Unfortunately the 3ID Commander’s coins are not serialized, so unless its owner returns looking for it you’ll never be sure who the owner is. Sadly this does happen. When we were reloading another unit and charged with moving all their office furniture I found a unit coin in a desk drawer.

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