AJC cartoonist Mike Luckovich joined a USO Tour last week to visit our troops in the Persian Gulf with other renowned cartoonists, including Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, Rick Kirkman of Baby Blues and Jeff Keane of Family Circus. Check out their work and Mike’s in the links below:
Veterans Day from Aghanistan | Tomb of the Forgotten cartoon | Sketches from Aghanistan | ‘Command Coins’ | Photos from Aghanistan | Exclusive toons for those on tour
“Command coins” are a military tradition and part of the greeting ritual among officers, soldiers and visitors. They are often engraved with a unit’s insignia and given for a job well done, usually by an officer to a soldier. The officer giving the coin places it in his palm and then shakes a soldier’s hand, leaving the coin in the soldier’s palm. During my visit, I received a number of coins this way. Here are some:
Larry Cooke: At the Kandahar Air Base, I presented a banner to the troops signed by Atlantans. The head of the USO Center at the base, Larry Cooke, shook hands with me and put this coin in my palm.
Col. Chris Gentry: While a long line of troops waited to be drawn, Gentry shook my hand and left this coin with me. The coin is in the shape of Ohio, home of the Army Reserve’s 643rd Regional Support Group.
USO: This coin was given to me by another high-ranking USO official while I was drawing troops.
Jeff Keane: Keane, son of “Family Circus” creator Bil Keane, now draws the cartoon and is president of the National Cartoonists Society (yes, we have one). On the front is the NCS logo; on the back is the character based on Jeff as a child.
Garry Trudeau: “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau had been to Iraq before with the USO, so he knew all about command coins and had some made featuring his character B.D. Under B.D.’s head on the left it reads: “Lighting up bad guys since 1970.”
The Luckovich coin: Since I didn’t know about the coins, I picked a piece of salami from my dinner plate.