Hit The Road: Army Navy Academy alumni pens military school history book

Author Alexander Mui spent several years extensively researching the history of his alma mater, the Army and Navy Academy, and that of similar schools throughout the country. The project began as a writing assignment in Mui’s sophomore year. (Courtesy photo)

Author Alexander Mui spent several years extensively researching the history of his alma mater, the Army and Navy Academy, and that of similar schools throughout the country. The project began as a writing assignment in Mui’s sophomore year. (Courtesy photo)

Former Army and Navy Academy student Alexander Mui, who graduated in 2008, helped reestablish the Carlsbad school’s historical museum and documented the first complete history of the school in time for its 100th anniversary in 2010.

Former Army and Navy Academy student Alexander Mui, who graduated in 2008, helped reestablish the Carlsbad school’s historical museum and documented the first complete history of the school in time for its 100th anniversary in 2010.

Alexander Mui was a sophomore at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad 12 years ago when he discovered the school’s long-neglected history museum. It was out of this find and years of in-depth research that his book, “Army & Navy Academy: History of the West Point of the West” (History Press: $22.99) was born.

“No one had opened the museum in a long time,” Mui explained during a phone interview from Austin, Texas. “There were a lot of old newspapers and books, and everything was covered with mold. I started a project with a parent to renovate the museum and preserve as many artifacts as possible.”

Cadets of the San Diego Army and Navy Academy stand in formation during a dress parade in the early 1900s. The academy opened in Pacific Beach with 13 students; two years later, there were 156. The school’s founder, Captain Thomas Davis, welcomed foreign students, unlike most private schools of the day that restricted admissions to white Christians. Admission was  $600 a year for boarding students; $100 for day students. Uniforms cost about $50. (Author’s collection)

Cadets of the San Diego Army and Navy Academy stand in formation during a dress parade in the early 1900s. The academy opened in Pacific Beach with 13 students; two years later, there were 156. The school’s founder, Captain Thomas Davis, welcomed foreign students, unlike most private schools of the day that restricted admissions to white Christians. Admission was $600 a year for boarding students; $100 for day students. Uniforms cost about $50. (Author’s collection)

Virginia-born Thomas A. Davis, a veteran of the Spanish American War (1898), arrived in San Diego in 1910 to establish a “high grade military high school.” The San Diego Army and Navy Academy moved from Pacific Beach to Carlsbad in 1936. Davis felt that every young man should have the kind of schooling that would create the next generation of “gentlemen leaders.” (Author’s collection)

Virginia-born Thomas A. Davis, a veteran of the Spanish American War (1898), arrived in San Diego in 1910 to establish a “high grade military high school.” The San Diego Army and Navy Academy moved from Pacific Beach to Carlsbad in 1936. Davis felt that every young man should have the kind of schooling that would create the next generation of “gentlemen leaders.” (Author’s collection)

When the San Diego Army and Navy Academy opened its doors in Pacific Beach Nov. 23, 1910, it was the first college prep military school in the state. Prior military academies had been either religious or reform schools that quickly failed.  San Diego’s excellent weather meant the cadets could enjoy classes and military drills outside, which the school’s founder thought beneficial for mental health. (Courtesy of Army and Navy Academy)

When the San Diego Army and Navy Academy opened its doors in Pacific Beach Nov. 23, 1910, it was the first college prep military school in the state. Prior military academies had been either religious or reform schools that quickly failed. San Diego’s excellent weather meant the cadets could enjoy classes and military drills outside, which the school’s founder thought beneficial for mental health. (Courtesy of Army and Navy Academy)

Mui’s book is not only a history of the Carlsbad academy, but of the country’s military schools.

“There had never been a book written about American military schools,” Mui explained. “Much of the book is original research. There was a lot of piecing together scraps of newspapers.”
Through the process, the author realized how important military schools were to the history of Southern California and North County.

“(They) used to be a hotbed for military schools,” he said.

A native of California whose ancestors immigrated to the United States from China, Mui graduated in 2008 from the academy. He went on to study molecular and cellular biology at Johns Hopkins University, where he also began writing a history of that school.

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