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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — For the first time in its history, the 51st Fighter Wing will have its own official coin.

Until now, individual wing commanders have created and passed out their own “commander’s coins” for the wing.

But Brig. Gen. Maury Forsyth wanted one representing the wing itself, and he recently invited airmen to submit design suggestions.

“He wants to have something that is unique to the 51st Fighter Wing that he can give out to visitors … or anyone deserving of the fighter wing coin,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Haney, commander of the 51st Communications Squadron’s Support Flight.

About five designs were submitted by e-mail, officials said. Wing officials will forge a final version in the coming weeks.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tony Ueno is a big believer in the importance of coins that bear a military unit’s name and motto and that unit leaders often give to special visitors or servicemembers who do something noteworthy.

In the 19 months he’s been at this air base he’s given a “chief’s coin” to deserving airmen on more than 100 occasions, he said.

“This tradition of coins is a wonderful idea,” said Ueno, group superintendent for the 607th Air and Space Communications Squadron, part of the 51st Fighter Wing. “I see it as a commander’s way of recognizing a job well done.”

Forsyth had called “for something classy, something unique, creative, but also not too cramped or busy,” Haney said.

The coin will measure one and three-quarter inches in diameter, she added.

Senior Airman Vu Nguyen, 22, of Houston, said he’s “not really big on coins,” but the Air Force gave him one when he graduated from basic training.

“It’s just one of those traditions of the military that we practice,” he said.

But Nguyen, a network security technician with the 51st Communications Squadron, thinks a new wing coin could be a good thing.

“If he is designing a new one,” Nguyen said, “I would hope it would reflect Americans and Koreans working together, because that’s the reason that we’re here.”


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