Department of Defense WWII 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee
This was the coin of the Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemorative Committee. I was assigned as the Chief of Staff and Director of Public Outreach and Awareness for the Committee in 2004 and 2005. Our Chairman was retired Army Lieutenant General Ed Soyster, one of the finest officers with whom I had the opportunity to work. The Committee designed this coin in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of the World War II veterans, all of whom in my experience earned the designation of "The Greatest Generation."
ARCENT-Saudi Arabia CSM's Coin
I'm particularly fond of this one. When I went to Saudi Arabia in 2000, I ran into Command Sergeant Major Bryant. As the one-man PAO shop, I was responsible for a number of things including retaking the awful photo of CSM Bryant that he had done before coming to ARCENT Saudi. In a great stroke of luck, I got an unusually good portrait of him. After that, we got along swimmingly. I had a great deal of respect for this Army professional. When he, the senior enlisted man in the command, found this Reserve lieutenant colonel worthy of his coin, I was humbled.
Colonel Barney Barnham, Medal of Honor Recipient
I learned a valuable lesson from this coin. LTG Soyster had mentioned to me that this civilian up in the Pentagon would be calling me for something-r-other. I said "Yeah, yeah..." and promptly forgot about it. After two reminder phone calls from the guy, I finally gathered up the required whatever-it-was and headed to the Pentagon. Upon delivery, I apologized for my lack of timely response, and a lovely conversation ensued. Not until he placed his coin in my hand did I learn that he was a Medal of Honor recipient. Lesson? Always give your best because you never know just how much the recipient may have already given. Colonel Barnham is a shining example of those who give above and beyond the call of duty.
Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White
Thomas White was the Secretary of the Army and I was his public affairs officer. That is to say that I attended all the meetings on behalf of the Chief of Public Affairs, who actually handled the guy. Sometime before I became his PAO and when I was still in the Plans Division, he came through the office handing out coins for the dedicated service provided by the folks at OCPA. I was away on business of some sort, but he and/or others in the office were thoughtful enough to make sure I got one, too. Secretary White subsequently resigned, much to the chagrin of many who knew him. He was a fine leader both in and out of uniform, and he deserved better than he got from the then Secretary of Defense.
General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, Army - Now Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Here's another officer who, in my opinion, really got screwed. This was Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki's coin, which found me in Saudi Arabia. I was taking photos of his visit there, and his aide-de-camp coined me and said, "Here you go. PAO's never get shit." General Shinseki some years later accurately predicted the number of Soldiers needed to keep the peace in Iraq and was rebuffed by senior Pentagon leaders as "...wildly off the mark." History has subsequently proven him to have been right. General Shinseki now serves on the President's cabinet as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and has led the VA well, instituting numerous positive changes in the amount and quality of veterans' benefits.
American Forces Network Europe -- From 1997 tour to Bosnia
I met Lieutenant Colonel Mitch Marovitz when he was the Army liaison to the entertainment industry in LA, and I was a Reserve PAO. I wound up working for him when he became the Commander of the American Forces Network, Europe. As the Commander of AFN-Balkans in Tuzla, Bosnia, it was my job to bring the AFN signal to the communities in Bosnia, Hungary and Croatia. Colonel Marovitz made sure I got one of these. Some years later after I made colonel, Mitch and I worked together in the Plans Division of the Office of Chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Army.
Operation Tribute to Freedom
This one and the next one actually go together. In 2003, when Soldiers began returning from Afghanistan and Iraq en masse, the Department of Defense established Operation Tribute to Freedom to coordinate DoD support to welcome home ceremonies and recognize the good deeds of those who supported those who had served. I got word while I was on leave that I was being detailed to the Operation Tribute to Freedom task force. (That's what I get for going on leave!) I worked as the Chief of Staff for OTF from June until November and this was the coin we designed and distributed.
Installation Management Agency Coin
Not only did I get the OTF job because I missed a meeting, so did Major General Andy Aadland, who was, at the time, the first Director of the newly formed Installation Management Agency. Since his hands were full standing up IMA, much of the work establishing and sustaining OTF fell to me as the senior full timer assigned to the task force. MG Aadland delegated much of the day-to-day work, and I did my best to keep him out of trouble while keeping the task force afloat. He said on presenting me with his IMA coin that I "kept it fun." We had a lot of fun, but did some damned good public affairs work on a shoestring budget.
United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim
On April 30, 1974, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia awarded then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kurt Waldheim with the International Statesman Award. This information is found on the reverse of the coin and is about all I remember from this event. I was a cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy at the time, and I suspect that either the Fanfare Trumpets or the full band, both of which I was a member, played at the award ceremony. This is one of those coins that's purely commemorative in nature.
Gistard D'Estaing, President of the French Republic
In May, 1976,then President of the French Republic, Valery Giscard d'Estang got the same award. It's also likely that the same music got played at his award ceremony as that of Kurt Waldheim two years before. As I recall, we played a lot of recurring events in and around Philadelphia, particularly in 1976 which was the bicentennial celebration for the United States. In fact, that year, I think the VFMA Band and Fanfare Trumpets spent more time out playing these events than we did going to class! We were awfully busy.
Coin of the Army Chief of Public Affairs
In the early 90's, I was an Army Reservist working as a technician in the television industry in Los Angeles. At some point, in either 1993 or 94, Major General Charles W. McClain, Jr., the Army's Chief of Public Affairs, came to visit the Los Angeles Branch, headed up by the aforementioned Mitch Marovitz. Mitch invited me to come to an evening social function with all the area PAO's. It occurred to me that it wouldn't hurt the Chief of Public Affairs to see firsthand what Army Reservists were doing for their day jobs. I invited him to tour E! Entertainment Television, where I was working at the time. He accepted, and I showed him around the station and got him a meeting with the CEO of E!, Lee Masters. As a "thank you," MG McClain coined me.
7th Infantry Division Coin -- from the LA Riots
On Wednesday, April 29, 1992, the jury acquitted all four officers accused of beating Rodney King. Fifty three people died in the ensuing six days of rioting in Los Angeles. Friday night, on day three, President George H. W. Bush federalized the National Guard and dedicated additional resources to local authorities. Troops came in from Camp Pendleton and Fort Ord to assist the local law enforcement authorities. The Pentagon sent COL Don Kirchoffner to LA to run the Joint Information Bureau in the offices of the 63rd Army Reserve Command's PAO. Since these were the offices to which I was assigned, I along with five other Reservists received orders to support this mission. While the orders never specifically stated that we were activated for the riots, we worked alongside the joint public affairs team and helped sustain their operation. We were recognized for our work with this coin from Fort Ord's 7th Infantry Division.
Commander's Coin of the 175th Finance Command, Seoul, Korea
These next two go together as well. The year was 1999. At the last minute, my Army Reserve boss decided that he didn't want to go to Korea to head up an external evaluation of the 175th Finance Command after all and sent me. I was a VERY junior lieutenant colonel and not even a Finance Officer! Accompanying me among others was Major Bill Carnegie, LTC Garold Holcomb and Master Sgt. Daryl Pooler, all experienced finance guys. So I walk in for the initial briefing thinking that Garold or someone else was going to be running the EXEVAL. So when the folks from the 175th gestured me to the head honcho's seat, I gave 'em the "deer in the headlights" look. Once I figured out that I was expected to run this thing, I sat down and promptly panicked. Fortunately, my role was as a facilitator, and Bill and Garold both were so kind as to do the heavy lifting during the exercise, allowing me to facilitate, which in military parlance translates to "do very little real work."
Battle Simulation Center, Seoul. Korea
With Bill and Garold taking care of the nuts and bolts of tactical and strategic finance issues, I concentrated on my last task, leading the AAR, aka the after action review. This was a meeting of all the people involved - evaluators and evaluatees. When it was all done, we had done a superb EXEVAL, and one of the gentlemen from the Korea Battle Simulation Center told me that the AAR "about as good as he's seen it done." The Korea Battle Sim Center's coin is to the left.
Then LTC Mike Lawhorn's Commander's Coin
Speaking of Korea, this coin comes from then Lt. Col. Mike Lawhorn, then commander of the Armed Forces Korea Network. I worked with Mike during my last assignment before retirement. He was kind enough to present me with this rather unique coin. Most as you can tell are round. Some are shaped like a dog tag. This one, as you can see, is struck in the shape of the Korean peninsula. Very cool! the reverse image here rotated to match the dimensions of the front side, so the text is aligned differently. But make no mistake about it, this is one of the more unique and interesting coins I've seen.

Coin of the Old Guard

I'm thoroughly embarrassed to admit that I have no memory of the circumstances of these next two coins, other than to say it was awarded at the gate of an airport while waiting to fly back to DC from a World War II commemorative event. It was another one of those "PAO's don't get anything" kind of moments, and it pains me to think that I can't remember First Lieutenant Miller, whose name is engraved on the back of this coin. One of my colleagues was with me when I got it, and he got these as well. Now if I could just remember which colleague it was!
Coin of the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington
During my nearly six years in the Pentagon, I worked with the Military District of Washington on many occasions. In another blinding flash of honesty, I can't recall why I have this one. But I know it's one of the more colorful and attractive coins around. The reverse depicts the Joint Forces Headquarters, National Capital Region. In addition to the routine missions associated with MDW, as the JFHQ-NCR is responsible for protecting the District of Columbia and neighboring areas. They draw together resources from all the services into a single headquarters for planning, coordination and execution of this mission.
63rd Regional Support Command
The 63rd was my first experience with the Army Reserve. In 1991, when I arrived there, it was called an ARCOM, or Army Reserve Command. While the designation as the 63rd has remained unchanged, the name of the organization has changed to reflect the state of the art in force management. It was the 63rd Regional Support Command (RSC), the 63rd Regional Readiness Command (RRC), and now is back to being called a Regional Support Command. I was a member of the 63rd off and on for about ten years, serving in various assignments in Public Affairs, Finance and Information Technology. Of course, long before all of this, the 63rd was an infantry division. The 63rd ID earned four campaign streamers for their outstanding service during World War II.
2004 All-American Bowl
In January, 2004, I travelled to San Antonio, TX as one of a jillion Army Public Affairs officers for the U.S. Army All American Bowl. Think of it as an all star game for high school athletes sponsored by the Army. It's a pretty impressive event, and in years past, the game has been covered by the major TV networks. Coupled with the presence of Soldier heroes returning from the Middle East, this event showcases the best from high school athletics and the Army.
CG's Coin from Fifth Army
This is another one of those circumstances in which the precise memories of the award of this coin are lost to the ages -- or at least MY advancing age. If what little memory I have serves, this was presented because of support I provided during a troop deployment that DIDN'T involve me. This would limit it to one event -- the deployment to Bosnia of the 356th Broadcast Public Affairs Detachment (BPAD) in 1996. I accompanied three Solders from the 222nd BPAD, which I was commanding, to Fort Meade, Maryland, where they integrated with the 356th. I didn't deploy myself until the next January when the 222nd replaced the 356th. But as I recall, the Fifth Army CG showed up at some point in the process, and I believe it was to see off the 222nd folks at LAX. But this information is likely to be in error.
During OPERATION TRIBUTE TO FREEDOM, we were fortunate to have the Florida National Guard's 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment assigned to the task force. The first sergeant of the 107th was Emil McBride. Emil stayed in the area after the 107th demobilized and took up employment with the Northwest Territorial Mint, just one of many companies who make commemorative coins. Emil manned Northwest Territorial Mint's kiosk in Fort America, the Pentagon's souvenir shop, so we saw each other from time to time. This was one of his more attractive samples, and he let me have one of 'em.
In 2001, I was assigned for two weeks as the exercise PAO for Exercise ROVING SANDS 2001. Major General Julian "J.B." Burns, the Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations ran the exercise, and presented me with this coin when it was all over.

More coins here.