Orvis’s Jim Lepage Receives Project Healing Waters Challenge Coin

PHW Challenge Coin

Orvis Vice President of Rod & Tackle Jim Lepage accepts his challenge coin from
SSGT Gary Powell (ret.) in Reno last month.

photo courtesy Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

At the recent International Fly Tackle Dealer show in Reno, Nevada, Orvis Vice President of Rod & Tackle Jim Lepage was presented with a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Challenge Coin. A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (usually military), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale.

In addition, they are also collected by service members. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit. They are also exchanged in recognition of visits to an organization.

The origins of the challenge coin dates back to WW II and was first used by Office of Strategic Service personnel who were deployed in Nazi-held France. The coins were simply a local coin used as a “Bona Fides” during a personal meeting to help verify a person’s identity. There would be specific aspects such as type of coin, date of the coin, etc. that were examined by each party. This helped prevent infiltration into the meeting by a spy who would have to have advance knowledge of the meeting time and place as well as what coin was to be presented, amongst other signals, as bona fides.

PHW Challenge Coin

The “heads”(or “obverse”) side of the coin features the PHWFF logo.

photo courtesy Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

Lepage received his coin from retired U.S. Army staff sergeant Gary K. Powell, who served in Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division. Here’s what Staff Serfeant Powell wrote about the meeting:

I was born in the West and grew up fishing, hunting, and living in the outdoors life with my family. From 1966 to 1968, I served in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. When I returned to civilian life I married, raised a family, and resumed my earlier outdoor activities with my wife and children.

In 2008 my sister-in-law, an Army nurse stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, introduced me to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and our family became supporters. In October of 2011, I entered as a participant, and my wife became a volunteer at the Long Beach, California, Program. PHWFF has provided us a platform to grow within the fly-fishing community and to offer our services to fellow veterans who enjoy the sport.

My wife and I were asked to help staff the PHWFF booth at the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Reno, and spread the word about the good work PHWFF does. As a new participant I was honored to be asked to present one of the first PHWFF Challenge Coins to Jim Lepage, Vice President, Orvis Rod and Tackle, for the long-term personal and corporate support Jim has provided to PHWFF.

Click here to learn more about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

PHW Challenge Coin

The “tails” (or “reverse”) side displays the branches of the U.S. military.

photo courtesy Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

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