‘Wolfhounds’ host Japanese orphans

| August 8, 2013 | 0 Comments
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Sgt. 1st Class Jared Gass (right), platoon sergeant, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, competes with a Japanese orphan from the Holy Family Home in Osaka, Japan, in an egg race across the beams at the obstacle course during “A Day with the Wolfhounds,” here, recently. Coldsteel Soldiers helped demonstrate each obstacle to the children and then helped them run through it together. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Hannah Smith, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment Public Affairs, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Sgt. 1st Class Jared Gass (right), platoon sergeant, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, competes with a Japanese orphan from the Holy Family Home in Osaka, Japan, in an egg race across the beams at the obstacle course during “A Day with the Wolfhounds,” here, recently. Coldsteel Soldiers helped demonstrate each obstacle to the children and then helped them run through it together. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Hannah Smith, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment Public Affairs, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division)

2nd Lt. Hannah Smith
1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment; 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team; 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Four orphans from Holy Family Home Orphanage, Osaka, Japan, arrived on Oahu, July 29, to spend two weeks with families from the 27th Infantry Regiment, “Wolfhounds.”

Four different families hosted the children: Two families hosted two children each for one week, and then the families swapped and the second two families hosted the children for a week.

Upon arrival, the children attended a welcome reception, spent a day soldiering with the Wolfhounds, attended a regimental barbecue and traveled with their host families to various events in the local community.

“One of the things that most people don’t recognize is that the children that come to visit are considered unadoptable,” said Patrick O’Reilly, son of the man who started the regiment’s relationship with the orphanage, Hugh O’Reilly, and a major contributor to care of the Holy Family Home. “So either they were abandoned at birth or have special medical needs that indicate they have to stay at the orphanage until they are of age. The Wolfhounds’ compassion and dedication to this event grows every year, and it is phenomenal to see and be a part of it.”

HONOLULU — Yuko O’Reilly (left, with lei), “Mother of the Wolfhounds,” and Lt. Col. Chuck Bergman (center, with lei), commander, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, greet four Japanese orphans from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, upon their arrival at the Honolulu International Airport, here, July. Also present for the welcome were (in background) the Consul General of Japan Toyoei Shigeeda; Col. Thomas Mackey, commander, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID; and Brig. Gen. Todd McCaffrey, support commander, 25th ID. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Reece Doty, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division)

HONOLULU — Yuko O’Reilly (left, with lei), “Mother of the Wolfhounds,” and Lt. Col. Chuck Bergman (center, with lei), commander, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, greet four Japanese orphans from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, upon their arrival at the Honolulu International Airport, here, July. Also present for the welcome were (in background) the Consul General of Japan Toyoei Shigeeda; Col. Thomas Mackey, commander, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID; and Brig. Gen. Todd McCaffrey, support commander, 25th ID. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Reece Doty, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division)

During a history reading to the children at one of the planned events of their stay, the “mother of the Wolfhounds,” Yuko O’Reilly, told the story of how her late husband got involved with the children.

“My husband developed a soft spot for the Holy Family Home Orphanage in Osaka, Japan, during the occupation in World War II,” she explained. “Led by him and other Wolfhounds, the Soldiers gave money to the run-down home starting in 1949. From that time forward, the Wolfhounds adopted the orphanage, fixing it up and raising funds for the children they began to cherish.”

Two orphans were invited to visit the Wolfhounds in 1957 and began a tradition that continues today, said Yuko O’Reilly.

“The planning process for this summer visit has been quite a learning experience,” said Capt. Reece Doty, intelligence officer and officer in charge for this visit. “For all the in-progress reviews during the planning, members of our battalions have gotten the opportunity to outreach to not only the local Hawaiian community, but also the Japanese community.”

“We’ve gotten support from the United Japanese Society of Hawaii, Japan Airlines, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Outrigger Canoe Club, Menehune Mac and KoAloha Ukulele, to name only a few,” said Doty. “It’s great to see civil-military relationships at work, and it’s great to see the Japanese orphans having the visit of their lives.”

The host families said that the language barrier hasn’t been a problem.

“Video games are universal,” said Katie Wisdom, one of the host mothers. “We have a 10-year-old son, and he and (the Japanese children) have found ways to communicate without knowing the language. We’ve let them stay up until midnight every night playing video games and drinking soda because it’s something they aren’t going to get to do again.”

Wisdom said that when the Japanese children made it up the rope climb during the obstacle course, her son was with them, giving them high-fives and encouragement, and the three of them spent the rest of the day together giggling and hanging out, developing a friendship that could continue for years after the children return to Japan.

Just as playing video games is universal for 10-year-old boys, the kindness of the Wolfhounds is universal to the Hawaiian and Japanese communities. The success of the Holy Family Home visit this year strengthens civil-military bonds on Oahu and encourages other units to reach out to civil partners to do the same.

(Editor’s note: Smith is the 1-27th unit public affairs representative.)

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Category: Community Relations, News

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