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I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From the Archives: RMO

Military coins (sometimes referred to as Round Metal Objects to avoid buying a round) are an interesting part of military culture. Generally, a military unit adopts a design and makes the coins available for sale to unit members to carry them in their wallets to give the impression of a deluxe condom bulge in the leather. In any drinking establishment with other unit members present, a challenge can be wagered by tapping one's RMO on the table. Any who fail to produce their coin and tap in answer buy a round. If all members present tap in answer, the challenger buys a round. I suspect the RMO pictured above is an informal unit coin, rather than one approved by the brass.

Division coins are minted by division chiefs to distribute as "attaboys" to outstanding performers, and personal coins by leading officers and senior NCOs who present them to visiting VIPs and retiring service members. There are also event coins to commemorate an annual or one-time event such as a major awards ceremony.

A lot of these coins are manufactured in Korea, using (I suspect) recycled brass from training ammunition. Coins for units that pass through Saudi Arabia have been known to get gold plating.

Military members are "highly encouraged" to carry the coin of their present unit. We retirees are under no such onus, but I still carry one today, only I rotate my collection through the wallet periodically. Currently, it's one from the Commandant of the Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey CA, for my participation in a Language Olympics. I no longer spend much time in public drinking establishments, but I figure that since it gets past a TSA inspection, I can use it as a blunt ninja throwing star if my plane ever gets hijacked.


  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger Benjamin said…


    Although I have never served, a buddy of mine did the Northern No-Fly Zone for a couple of years. He also gave me a blood chit. I had my mother frame the chit and the RMO together and the result was a pretty moving wall hanging.

    I should photograph it one of these days and email it to you.

    Take care,

  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fascinating story behind military coins! I have witnessed this from time to time in the various OC’s I’ve dined in and have always wondered what was up with all that. I have been thinking about getting the military brat coin for some time. Not because I hang out in bars but as something that links me to a vanished past.
    You mentioned having served in Korea. (thank you) I thought you might find this article interesting.

  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Joel Gaines said…

    I have one from 3AD - the BC gave it to me sometime during the gulf war. The only RMO attaboy I ever received. I still carry it from time to time, and never leave home without it if I am going to a drinking establishment.

  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger AnarchAngel said…

    My MacDill coin sits in my jeans "watch" pocket.

  • At 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Must be Zoomey thing... I've never heard of them, but then I was a Squid...


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