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Mystery object in military photo?
November 28, 2010 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Mystery object in military photo?

Here's a photo of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace shaking hands with Chinese tanker soldiers. There seems to be a yellow object in their hands, what could it be?
posted by Tom-B to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
A lighter is my best guess, but there has to be a story here. Very interesting...
posted by Taft at 8:11 AM on November 28, 2010


Could be a bandage on the General's palm.
posted by dfriedman at 8:13 AM on November 28, 2010


Some kind of US military insignia, pin or patch? He was given a set of Chinese pilot wings on a tour of an air force base. Maybe he's returning the favor.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2010


And the Chinese guy has his left hand coming in ready to ensure nothing is dropped...and the more I look at that hand the weirder it looks even though I'm sure it's just an obscured thumb.
posted by episodic at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2010


Belt buckle or some kind of unit insignia would be my guess.
posted by Ahab at 8:22 AM on November 28, 2010


The corresponding news article - no mention of gifts.
posted by zamboni at 8:34 AM on November 28, 2010


He's handing him a commander's coin in a plastic case.
posted by fixedgear at 8:50 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's the photographer's linkedin profile -- somebody with an account there could send him a message and ask what it was.

(BTW the last photo in the set shows Pace receiving a gift from what appears to be a much more senior officer. The photo in question appears to be of a young man who probably would not be the one to give any gifts.)
posted by Rhomboid at 8:54 AM on November 28, 2010


There is a traditon of awarding and collecting Challenge Coins in the military. Often these coins are earned, but they can be given as a sign of comeradery or honor. The picture looks like the little object is square, so I called my dad and he agrees that it's probably just a square Challenge Coin.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:57 AM on November 28, 2010


Challenge coin. They're sort of memorabilia that individual officers or units make and give out on special occasions.

In theory, you bring these with you to formal events, so that you can 'challenge' other people to see who has a coin from the highest ranking officer. You get free drinks if you win.

In practice, this is considered kind of lame--pokemon, anyone?--but you can collect them.
posted by _cave at 8:59 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


damn should have previewed
posted by _cave at 9:01 AM on November 28, 2010


Here's the CJS challenge coin for Pace - it's not square, but a pentagon.
posted by zamboni at 9:08 AM on November 28, 2010


Yep, it is a coin. my captain did that when he gave me one.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2010


He's definitely giving the soldier a "challenge coin" as mentioned above. A common practice is to not just hand it to the recipient, put to palm it and present it while shaking hands.

How I loathe that awkward gimmicky practice, which has taken hold throughout the military in the past several years.
posted by Wufpak at 9:44 AM on November 28, 2010


Here's the CJS challenge coin for Pace - it's not square, but a pentagon.

It looks like the object is a pentagon- look at the corners. The corner that's visible isn't a right angle.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2010


It looks like the object is a pentagon- look at the corners. The corner that's visible isn't a right angle.

You are correct. One can clearly see that the part of the object seen through the gap between the index and the middle finger is wider than the top part.
posted by Authorized User at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2010


Awesome a mystery solved! While you guys are here, why do only some tank guys get the cool helmets?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2010


Blasdelb, I don't know how the People's Liberation Army tanker SOP, but it was (and may still be) common for US armored vehicle crewmembers to have a 'cool' helmet with headset/mike for wear inside the vehicle, and a more protective, conventional Fritz helmet for wear when dismounted. So, the guys in the picture with the Fritz helmets may be infantry, or they may be tankers wearing their dismounted gear, or, for all we know, they're wearing whatever the PR guys thought would look best for the photo-op.
posted by Wufpak at 5:24 PM on November 28, 2010


Awesome! Thanks!
posted by Tom-B at 9:09 PM on November 28, 2010


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