The idea for the Operation Just Cause coin and the one for the U.S. Naval Station Panama Canal came about for a couple of reasons. The first was that I wanted something other than a certificate (and an old t-shirt) to commemorate our tour of duty at Rodman and the invasion for which my entire family (wife and two boys) were involved in. The second reason was that there was no coin currently available.
My family arrived in Panama in March of 1988 with orders to the U.S. Naval Station Panama Canal, which coincided with my oldest son's 6th birthday. This was right after one of the coup attempts on General Noriega. We arrived at the commercial airport (Tocumen International) and were stopped a number of times by armed military police before we safely arrived at the Naval Station. With an 18-month child in tow (my youngest son), my wife was about ready to turn back and head stateside then. Fortunately, things improved somewhat for the next couple of years and we had an enjoyable tour. Thinking back, I think the joy on my sons' faces getting to see a kitchen stocked full of Cheerios and Pop-Tarts was enough to get the "look" from my wife Pam; I think we knew from there we would be enjoying our stay.
We made lots of friends, many of whom we still stay in contact with, and have lifelong memories. Unfortunately, the invasion ended all of that and after witnessing it and the after effects (many of them which we were able to see from our kitchen window), they were evacuated to the States in January 1990.
The flag shape of the medallion design is probably obvious while the front is essentially a replication of the certificate mentioned in our product description. I believe this certificate was presented to everyone who participated in Operation Just Cause. I wanted the medallion to be a "period piece," so we didn't want to embellish on what was already a great design. Basically, I wanted it to look like the 80's without the other modern enhancements we've become accustomed to. Since there is no way I could list all of the units that participated in the invasion on a medallion sized piece of memorabilia, we opted to individually list all four of the services. The Bridge of the Americas was the best and most prominent landmark we decided to work with.
My hope was that there were more people, from all branches of service, who would be receptive to the medallion/coin and so far it looks as if there are. We have both items listed here on our site and on ebay. We've included some pictures to look at; some from my duty station at the P.S.D. as well as some candid family photos as well. Please feel free to comment and give us feedback and memories you have from your tours and experiences in Panama!