Sung Mun Wai

     Sung Mun Wai (1859-1913), was born in Shanghai, and came to the US as a member of the second detachment of the CEM.[1] He attended the Natchaug School in Willimantic, Connecticut, where he won acclaim for his declamation and singing talents, then prepared at the Somerville High School in Somerville, Massachusetts (1878-1880), before matriculating at MIT. After returning to China with the recall of the CEM, he enrolled at the Fuzhou Naval School, where he specialized in navigation science. He was also married soon after his return, in 1882, to a Chinese lady at Macao. Sung enjoyed a successful career as a naval officer, beginning as a Chief Gunnery Officer on the Dingyuan in the Beiyang Squadron and eventually rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.[2] He also worked for a number of years (1899-1907) at the Anglo-French Quiksilver Mining Company at Guizhou. Sung saw action at the Yalu River battle during the Sino-Japanese war of 1894, and was dramatically rescued by a fishing boat after his vessel was sunk by the Japanese. By the time of his twenty-fifth class anniversary, Sung had been appointed Captain of a gunboat in the Nanyang Fleet of Shanghai.[3] Sung participated in the Chinese Revolution of 1911, joining forces against Qing imperial troops in Nanjing.

"It gives me great pleasure to hear from you," wrote Sung to his Class secretary at the time of his twenty-fifth Class reunion. 

"Since I left the M.I.T. I have not heard from any of the American members of our Class. I should very much like to come to the twenty-fifth anniversary of our Class to see you all again, but I shall be unable to do so, as I cannot leave the command of my ship.… Should any member of our Class come to China, I shall be very glad to meet him." [Class of '84 MIT: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Book, 1909, 95.]




[2] The Dingyuan.

[3] Class of '84 MIT: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Book, 1909.

Sources: MIT Chinese Students Directory: For the Past Fifty Years, 1931; Class of '84 MIT: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Book, 1909; the Technology Review; The Tech; the MIT Course Catalogue; MIT's Reports to the President; Who's Who of American Returned Students (You Mei tongxue lu), Beijing: Tsinghua College, 1917; CEM Connections; Thomas La Fargue, China's First Hundred. Pullman: State College of Washington, 1942; and The Thomas La Fargue Digital Collection (Washington State University Libraries).