Mobile Menu Icon

Our History and Traditions Run Deep

All notable schools have a grand history and great sense of tradition, and Army & Navy Academy is no exception.


Since its founding in 1910, our cadets have felt loyalty and kinship with our nation’s institutions of military leadership and training. Our country has been proud of the five service academies and the contributions they have made in the development of our nation.


From the founding of the first military training school in 1802, the United States Military Academy also known as West Point, to the establishment of the United States Air Force Academy in 1954, Army and Navy Academy has inculcated their values, traditions and sense of duty to one’s community and nation. Tradition plays an important part in our cadets' educational endeavors and accomplishments.

The students of Army & Navy Academy tend to view any continuing practice as a tradition, regardless of how long it has been in effect. The words “custom” and “tradition” are often used interchangeably. There are differences with regard to the time of a particular practice.


It is commonly accepted that customs are short lived and simple habits, whereas traditions are passed from one generation to another. A tradition may be a past practice with a length of 25 years or more. Academy traditions have changed over the years and the Cadet Guide Book outlines, in more detail, customs and traditions of the school.


The overseer of the history, traditions and customs of the Army & Navy Academy is the School President. The following material outlines the more long-term traditions. 

Prepared by: John Burden, Class of 1963 

Original material was written by Lieutenant Colonel Steven Miller, Past President of ANA.

Senior Class Ring

There is no more emblematic symbol of a school’s history than its Senior Class Ring. The Senior Ring is a conduit from a school's past as well as a connection to its future. A class ring is worn by students and alumni in the United States to commemorate their attendance and graduation.

The tradition of the class ring originated with the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) Class of 1835. At Army Navy, the Senior Class Ring represents the accomplishment of the wearer and symbolizes a lifetime bond to the Academy. The manner in which the ring is received, presented and worn is all part of the historic transformation of the wearer from a young man of good character to an alumnus of one of the finest college preparatory schools in this nation.

Senior Garden, Well and Lawn

The most coveted possession of the First Class (Senior Class) is the Lawn which is adjacent to a well-kept Rose Garden.  This location was part of the Red Apple Inn which, in 1936, became the Davis Military Academy. This was the short-lived name of the school during the transition period when the school moved from the San Diego campus.

As the school settled into this new facility in Carlsbad, the Senior Class took over the area next to the Inn which had become the main building on campus. The Class of 1937 started the tradition of exercising control over this area of the campus. It soon became known as the Senior Garden. As it was reported by an alumnus of that era, this area first taken over by the seniors included the gate, the small garden and the wishing well. The tradition required that only seniors (first classmen) and their guests were allowed in this area of the campus.

In 1976, records show that exclusive use of the north lawn became a formal senior tradition. The Class of 1976 had a molded concrete plaque which was presented to the Academy and this lawn became known as the “Senior Lawn.” The Class of 1996 established a standard procedure to protect and to perpetuate the customs of the Senior Lawn from one First Class to the next at year's end during the school’s commencement.

Dedication of the Adjutant

The oldest known tradition and privilege of the First Class (Senior Class) is the dedication of the annual yearbook. The oldest yearbook of record is The Cadet of 1914. The inscription in that yearbook reads “The Class of 1914 dedicates this book to their friend and advisor, Dr. N.A.N. Cleven.” Based on this inscription and the long history of the yearbook, dedications shall be a privilege of the First Class.

Later the yearbook became known as the Adjutant. The procedures for nomination of a person to be honored for this distinction shall be determined by the members of the First Class each year. 

Academy's Historical Timeline

History Timeline for ANA

Click here to view an expandable timeline of Army and Navy Academy's historical events.
Read More

1910 Captain Thomas A. Davis founded the San Diego Army and Navy Academy in the old Balboa Hotel in Pacific Beach with thirteen students.


1912 The Academy has its first graduation with two students.


1913 The first recognition and accreditation took place by University of California officials.


1914 The United States Army adds a regular Officer to conduct Military Science and Tactics courses.


1915 Growth of the school required expansion of building additional educational facilities.


1920 Founders brother, Lieutenant John Davis, Jr. joined school staff as an Assistant Professor of Military Science.


1921 Tuition cost for a boarding student was $1,000.00 per year.


1922 The Academy added a Naval training program to school curriculum.


1922 School founder Thomas Davis garnered a commission as Colonel from the National Guard of Kentucky.


1923 A Lower School Division was established as a separate unit on campus. This division was for first grade to

sixth grade.


1924 The enrollment rose to 329 cadets.


1924 The Academy joined the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States.


1926 The school added three new buildings, auditorium for drama department, classrooms for the lower school and an



1926 Captain Atkinson received praise and recognition in Southern California for participating in local parades and providing concerts in Balboa Park.


1927 United States War Department awarded the Class “M1” military rating. This established the Academy as a junior unit of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program.


1927 The school now had 500 registered students and started a gigantic building expansion program.


1927 The City of Los Angeles invited the Cadet Battalion to take part in the dedication ceremony of the New City



1928 The school added four new cadet barracks buildings and there were 64 building and cottages on campus to house 362 cadets.


1929 The Junior College Division was founded. An additional 18 acres were purchased to accommodate the college program.


1929 The school had reached 437 registered cadets.


1930 The Academy marked the 20th Anniversary. Colonel Davis was making plans to double the school from 500 to 1000 students.


1931 The National economic problems of the pending depression were starting to impact school operations with declining enrollment.


1933 The Security Trust & Savings Bank, and other creditors, which hold to mortgage on the school, seized control of the management of the school.


1935 The Academy starts its twenty-fifth year and should be celebrating their Silver Anniversary. In light of the poor economic situation no celebration is held.


1936 The last graduation for the San Diego Army and Navy Academy is held at the Pacific Beach campus. Bank and creditors foreclose on the school seizing all property and holding of the school.


1936 In Summer, Colonel Davis forms a stock company in which faculty and staff invests personal resources and creates a new school. Abandoned Red Apple Inn is rented in Carlsbad, California.


1936 In September, Colonel Davis opens the Davis Military Academy with 37 cadets,


1937 Pacific Beach campus is sold. New owner does not want the school’s name. The name, San Diego Army & Navy Academy is returned to Davis.


1938 School year starts with old name.


1938 Mr. & Mrs. Arthur C. Anderson befriend the Academy and become generous benefactors.


1938 During Christmas Holiday Colonel Thomas Davis informs faculty and staff that he is resigning from the Academy to return to the Pacific Beach campus. He accepts a position as Vice-President and Director of Admission for the educational corporation that purchased the school assets.


1939 Combination auditorium-gymnasium and seven 4-room cottages on built on campus.


1941 Major John Davis, the second school President, leaves the school for another position at an East Coast military Academy.


1941 On December 16th, the Academy dropped it’s for profit status as a private stock corporation and becomes a non-profit educational organization.


1942 The third school President, Captain V.R. Vestal, leaves the school to return to active military duty during World War II.


1942 Major Samuel Warfield Peterson, who has served the Academy as Headmaster, is elevated as the fourth President.


1943 San Diego was dropped from the official name of the school and it was now known as the “Army and Navy Academy”.


1943 On the 26th of April, Major Samuel Warfield Peterson passed away after long service to the Academy since 1916.


1943 Board of Directors appoints Major W.C. Atkinson as fifth School President. Mrs. Virginia Powell Atkinson was appointed as the first woman Vice-President of a Military School.


1943 Negotiation of a sale agreement was started with Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Anderson. The Anderson transferred title to the school of all property and assets or $10,000.00 a year for twenty years.


1944 The school starts a waiting list for students. A building program for additional student housing is started. Tents were placed on campus on a temporary basis during construction to accommodate student quarters.


1945 Headmaster Charles Bain passed away after a long illness. Raymond Ede takes over as Headmaster.


1948 Building expansion program started with three buildings.

• Academic Hall

• Bain Hall

• Recreation Hall


1949 Academy friend and benefactor Arthur Anderson passed away.


1950 Sadly, within six month Gertrude Anderson also passes. A reading of

Family it is revealed that all school grounds and buildings are left to the Academy free of all indebtedness.


1950 After forty years, the school has just over 200 cadets and continues its mission of “to educate and develop young men of good character”.


1951 Beloved teacher and School Vice-President Virginia Powell Atkinson suddenly passed away after a short illness.


1955 Building and campus expansion program started.


1955 New dormitory built in honor of Dr. S. J. McClendon, a prominent San Diego pediatrician


1956 A Cadet Chapel in memory of Virginia Powell Atkinson was started


1956 Academy Library built in honor of Major Samuel Warfield Peterson


1957 New dormitory built in honor of V. J. Dorman – Board of Director and Attorney


1958 New dormitory built in honor of Roy Hoover, a retired banker and Board of Director


1958 The Mother’s Club was formed on November 7th. Later to be known as the Army Navy Academy Patron’s Association (ANAPA)


1958 The Virginia Powell Atkinson Memorial Chapel was dedicated


1960 The Academy celebrates fifty years of dedicated service of “educating and developing young men of character”


1960 The Senior White Uniform was debuted as part of the Golden Anniversary celebration


1960 A Memorial Chapel window dedicated, a gift from the Class of 1961


1960 The Fitzgerald Science Hall was dedicated


1960 New dormitory built in honor of M. H. “Myke” Lewis, a friend of the Academy


1960 The Administrative Building, built in 1939, was dedicated to the school founder Colonel Thomas Davis for his long devoted service to the Academy.


1961 New dormitory built in honor of Roy S. McIntosh, a long-time Latin Teacher for the Academy.


1964 The swimming pool facility, a project of the ANA Mother’s Club, was donated and dedicated to the school


1966 A contract was signed with the Department of the Army to assign an active duty Officer as the Senior Army Instructor to oversee and manage the JROTC program.


1970 An expansion was completed to the Commandant’s Office and named in honor of Lieutenant Gary Letson, USMC, ANA Class of 1963, who was killed in the action in the Republic of Viet Nam.


1971 The Academy was named as an Honor Unit with Distinction by the Department of Army.


1972 Colonel W.C. Atkinson retired from the Office of President. Two years later he returned to the office to oversee and manage the day to day operations of the school.


1980 Colonel Gilbert Brookhart took over the Office of President. Two year later he passed away.


1983 Colonel William Currier Atkinson passed away after fifty-nine years of dedicated and devoted service to the Army & Navy Academy community.


1985 The Army and Navy Academy celebrates their Diamond Jubilee and seventy-five of service to continue, “Our mission is to educate and develop young men of good character”


1988 “The salute to Colonel Atty”, a fund raising program, is started by the Alumni Association to build the Colonel William Atkinson Building.


1992 The Crean Foundation gives a generous gift to build much needed student housing facilities.


1994 The Atkinson and Crean student housing facilities are completed and dedicated.


1994 The school’s Athletic Field is named in honor of Coach John Maffucci for his long-time service to the school and its athletic programs. The City of Carlsbad further honors him by declaring October 28th, 1994 as “Coach John Maffucci Day”.


2003 A dormitory building was damaged and needed to be replaced. A new multi-story student housing unit is built. The new facility is named in honor of Mr. & Mrs. A.C. Anderson whose kindness ensured that ANA would have needed resources to continue providing an unique environment for educating young gentlemen of good character.


2003 An old student housing unit, on south side of campus, was converted into needed office spaces for the Military (JROTC) Department. This building was re-dedicated in honor and memory of Lieutenant Colonel Steve Miller who started his career with the Academy as the Senior Military Instructor in 1992.

2005 The southwest corner ANA of the athletic field was selected to become the Home of the North County Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial. This Memorial honors all known Veterans of North San Diego County who gave their last full measure to a grateful nation during this conflict. Also listed on this Memorial are ANA Alumni who died during the events of the Viet Nam War.

Executive Office

Past Presidents

Click on the expandable link to view past Academy Presidents

Read More

2014 to Present

MG Arthur Bartell   

2002 to 2014
BG Steve Bliss     

1997 to 2002
Colonel Steve Miller  

1992 to 1996
Dr. Fred Heinle

1991 to 1992
Mr. Michael Wallgren

Mr. John Maffucci  
Dr. Conrad Garner

1983 to 1991
Colonel Donald Kline

1982 to 1983
Mr. Fred Rowhotham

1980 to 1982
Colonel G.N. Brookhart

1974 to 1980
Colonel W.C. Atkinson (President Emeritus)

1972 to 1974
Lt. Colonel W.C. Atkinson, Jr.

1943 to 1972
Colonel W.C. Atkinson

1942 to 1943
Major Samuel W. Peterson

1941 to 1942 
Captain V.R. Vestal

1939 to 1941
Major John L. Davis

1910 to 1939
Colonel Thomas A. Davis (Founder)

Preserving our History

Many thanks to those who have assisted us in compiling the history for the Centennial Celebration. A special thank you to alumni Alexander Mui '08 and John Burden '63, and to former parent Pete Zoschak.

If you would like to help uncover more of the Academy's history or if you can provide us with updated information, please contact the Academy by e-mail.

Join fellow Cadets, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and Friends in piecing together the Academy's rich legacy and traditions, and as we work toward our future goals as outlined in our Strategic Plan:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Financial Growth
  • Campus Modernization & Environmental Sustainability
  • Workplace of Choice
  • Community Engagement

Warrior Proud! Warrior Strong!