Japanese orphanage sends special visitors for 53rd year

| August 17, 2010 | 0 Comments

Tenta Emi, a child from the Holy Family Home Orphanage in Osaka, Japan, gets his first taste of Hawaiian hospitality as he arrives at Honolulu’s international airport, July 26. Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Sixty-one years ago in Osaka, Japan, Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment began a legacy with a trip to a run-down orphanage, Christmas Day, shortly after World War II in 1949.

This one trip bonded the orphans of Holy Family Home and the Wolfhound Soldiers for decades to come.

“He would not stop talking about it,” said Yuko O’Reilly, as she recounted her late husband’s (then Sgt. Hugh O’Reilly’s) words. “He told me, ‘if you have one ounce of human blood you cannot ignore this.’”

In 1957, two orphans from the orphanage were invited to visit the Soldiers in Hawaii. From that point on, children from the orphanage began to visit the Soldiers, here, each year.

This year, four children from Holy Family Home Orphanage visited the Wolfhounds. They arrived on July 26, and were met with great pomp and ceremony.

“I believe hosting these kids is one of the most important things that we do,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Wilson, commander, 2nd Battalion, 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. “When I first took command (of the battalion) in February, the first meeting I officially attended was one for our annual Holy Family Home (Orphanage) summer visit. It was one of the first things I wanted to address because I wanted it to be special.”

Each year, the two Wolfhound battalions, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3BCT, and 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, take turns in taking the lead to welcome children from the orphanage. Wolfhound families host the children and treat them to history lessons, days at the beach and a picnic attended by the entire battalion.

Children from the Holy Family Home Orphanage in Osaka, Japan, pose with their instruments before they perform an authentic Japanese dance routine at a picnic, Aug. 6, hosted by 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID. The children’s visit marked the 53rd year children from the orphanage have visited the Wolfhound battalions in Hawaii.This year, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. hosted the children from Holy Family Home Orphanage, and Wilson’s mantra for the visit was “it’s all about the kids.”

“I don’t care what goes wrong during the ceremony or picnic,” he said. “I don’t care if they burn the barbecue, as long as those kids have a good time.”

The orphans and their host families experienced the most acute cultural awareness. Despite the language barrier, families and their children learned to communicate with more than just words during the visit.
“There are a lot of hand motions and gesturing,” Wilson said, as he recounted times in the past when he hosted children from the orphanage.

Although the children were shy at first, they quickly formed bonds with their host families. When asked what their favorite part from their visit was, they answered in true 11-year-old fashion.

“We loved the Wii video game!” said Tenta Emi.

“We loved shopping and going to the beach!” said Namiko Takenaka and Ayano Nakamura.

The children left, Friday, after living with the Wolfhounds for almost two weeks. As always, goodbyes were bittersweet. Soldiers and families said their final farewells during a ceremony held at the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. Headquarters.

“We hate to see them go,” said Capt. Daniel Seibel, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. “The effect the children had on the regiment was the most apparent at the farewell ceremony at D Quad. We had to practically pry the host families from the kids, so they would not be late for their flights. Our biggest after-action review comment for the visit was to have more tissues on hand next time.”

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