TR Robertson – The rain had stopped, the sun was beginning to shine on an early Friday morning as visitors to Carlsbad’s Army and Navy Academy were beginning to arrive at the Academy’s historic Davis Hall to take in a new event recently started called Coffee & Colors. The event, started by Army and Navy Academy President Major General Peggy C. Combs U.S. Army retired, reflects one of the new ways the Academy is opening its doors to the public to find out more about the Academy and its long history in the community of Carlsbad. Hundreds and hundreds of people drive by Army and Navy Academy every day or walk by the gates not realizing the important role this institution has played in so many lives for over 100 years in San Diego County.
Every day the cadets of the Army and Navy Academy take part in morning colors and flag raising, assembling on Davis Lawn in front of historic Davis Hall. Davis Hall and Lawn is named after the Academy founder Colonel Thomas A. Davis. The Hall is actually the old gymnasium and remains in use by the school. Walking inside of Davis Hall is like taking a step back in time as the walls are full of pictures of every graduating class of Army and Navy Academy as well as every student body member. State flags hang high on both sides of the gymnasium and the basketball baskets and backboards have a very unique apparatus attaching them to the gym walls. The gymnasium was built in 1939. There is a new gymnasium directly across the street from the Academy, part of the Duffield Sports Complex, named after donors Dave and Cheryl Duffield. The coffee and socializing for this Friday’s Coffee & Colors would take place inside Davis Hall with those attending stepping outside on the steps of Davis Hall to witness the flag ceremony. Also on display in Davis Hall was a showcase collection of literature put together by the City of Carlsbad Library dedicated to Black leaders in U.S. History. Outside on Davis Lawn the Army and Navy Academy Atkinson Warrior Band entertained those in attendance for the morning event playing a number of patriotic songs, including the U.S. Marine, Navy and Air Force official songs, finishing with the National Anthem as the United States flag was raised with the Corps of Cadets at full attention.
Those attending the Coffee & Colors then adjourned back inside Davis Hall, with the cadets being dismissed to enter the gym through side doors. Back inside, everyone was welcomed, by Major General Peggy Combs, to the morning event and then Major General Combs introduced the cadets, staff and guests to the morning speaker, Tim Ware. Timothy Eugene Ware is a Southern California athlete, playing college football at USC on an athletic scholarship and having played professional football with the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Raiders. Tim is currently working as the School Intervention Administrator and Coordinator for School Safety and oversees security for all schools in San Diego. In an interview with The Honor Group he said, “He is dedicated to instilling a lasting foundation of self-importance, respect, and purpose for all students of San Diego.” This morning’s talk centered on the purpose and challenges of being a leader. Tim directed his talk specifically to the cadets. He said, “There is a fine line between encouraging and discouraging, between being a builder or a wrecker”. He told the cadets they are all needed to be leaders worth following both physically, academically, and spiritually. He challenged them to find out who they truly are and reminded them, “A leader worth following works to make those around him/her better”. After Mr. Ware’s address, the guests attending were allowed to leave and the cadets dismissed to begin their classes. As we left the Academy grounds the overall feeling was this was a most enjoyable, patriotic, and educational way to begin the day. Leslie Schneider, Marketing and Communications Director for Army and Navy Academy, said they aim to hold monthly Coffee & Colors in the future, occasionally having a speaker addressing the cadets and those attending. She said anyone wanting to attend should get on their distribution list for emails about Coffee & Colors and to receive an invitation to attend.
A little background on Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. The Academy was originally founded on November 23, 1910, by Colonel Thomas A. Davis and was known as Davis Military Academy. The Academy opened in Pacific Beach in San Diego, using the Hotel Balboa for classrooms and Administrative Offices. Colonel Davis moved the Academy to Carlsbad in 1936, renaming the school San Diego Army and Navy Academy. The name San Diego was dropped in 1943. The private school is exclusively for boys in grades 7-12, offering West Point-style leadership training, C.I.F. athletics and a wide range of clubs, activities, and trips. “The Academy’s Mission is to educate, mentor, and develop good character in young men.” The Academy is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges, California Association of Independent Schools, Western Boarding Schools Association, Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the U.S. and National Association of Independent Schools; just to name a few of the many organizations recognizing the quality of education they provide.
Some of the interesting facts about the school are they have an enrollment of 285 cadets and 35 staff members. One of the presidents of the school was William Currier Atkinson and was the Academies’ President for 50 years. The school’s Mess Hall was the former Red Apple Inn restaurant, built in 1927. The Mess Hall is named the Joe Orozco Mess Hall. Joe Orozco worked at the Academy for almost 50 years. The Academy grounds cover 14 acres. Cadets are housed 2 or 3 in a room and there are cottages on the campus for some of the staff and employees. Many of the buildings, both on the grounds before Army & Navy Academy was established and after some of the current buildings were first built, were built long before Carlsbad was incorporated as a city in 1952. There are many more interesting facts about the Academy that make this school a fascinating piece of history of Carlsbad and the surrounding area.
Carlsbad’s Army and Navy Academy is located at 2605 Carlsbad Blvd., phone number 888-762-2338. Their web site is www.armyandnavyacademy.org.