Steven Moore has never served in the military, but for the past 16 years he's been serving the Fort Bragg community, specializing in the design of military challenge coins.
More than just collectible tokens, the coins are a concrete way to commemorate shared service and personal achievement. Commanders award them with a solemn handshake, and soldiers often treasure them as keepsakes.
“I’m told by the soldiers that they are highly coveted items, and gives them incentive to earn them,” Moore said.
According to military lore, the tradition of issuing challenge coins dates back to World War I, though Moore acknowledges that might be something of an urban legend.
Moore has designed more than 2,200 coins throughout his career, and while he can’t pick a favorite, he said he’s drawn to the coin he produced for the 82nd Airborne’s Purple Heart recipients.
“It’s the only coin that nobody really wants to get,” he said.
Moore has another connection to the military. Both his son and daughter are on active-duty.
“I love hearing their stories about their work and their love for their fellow soldiers,” he said. “The only part that’s been rough is when they’ve been deployed.”
He recalled many sleepless nights while his children were deployed overseas.
Moore said he will always cherish the coin his son, an Infantry officer, ordered for his platoon while deployed to Afghanistan.
“It really was something that came full circle, to actually be producing a challenge coin for my own flesh and blood,” he recalled.
Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org