Wolfhounds, O’Reilly family welcome children from the Holy Family Home Orphanage

| August 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
Children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan receive Leis, as they are welcomed to the Wolfhound Family for the next two weeks at the Welcome Ceremony held at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu Hawaii, July 24, 2017. This marks the 60th year of this exchange for the 27th Infantry Regiment and the Holy Family Home. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Regiment)

Children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan receive Leis, as they are welcomed to the Wolfhound Family for the next two weeks at the Welcome Ceremony held at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu Hawaii, July 24, 2017. This marks the 60th year of this exchange for the 27th Infantry Regiment and the Holy Family Home. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Regiment)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Sixty years ago, honorary Sgt. Maj. Hugh O’Reilly led the 27th Infantry Regiment, “Wolfhounds.” in one of the greatest displays of compassion and outreach to come out of World War II.

Spending their limited pay and even more limited spare time, the Soldiers of the Wolfhound Regiment helped the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Osaka, Japan, rebuild and repair their long-suffering orphanage. Donating over $10,400 (nearly $90,000 in today’s value), the Regiment began a long-standing tradition that endures to this day.

On July 24, four children from the orphanage – Yoshiki, Kyo, Koume and Momoka – arrived at the Honolulu International Airport and were welcomed with open arms by the Wolfhounds and the O’Reilly family. Laden with lei and greetings of “aloha,” the children met their host families who would open up their homes for the next two weeks.

The Wolfhound mascot, Kolchak XVI, and the command teams of 1st and 2nd Battalions, 27th Inf. Regt., were also present to welcome the children.

The Soldiers and family of the 27th Infantry Regiment gather at the 60th Annual Holy Family Home exchange event with Mrs. Yuko O'Reilly, the mother of the Wolfhounds, and the host children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, at the cake cutting/ welcome ceremony at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 24, 2017.This event kicks off the two week Wolfhound event of hosting four children from the orphanage. The tradition of helping the Holy Family Home started when Master Sgt. Hugh O'Reilly of the 27th Infantry Regiment came across the war torn site and decided to help rebuild the structure and sponsor the children. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Regiment)

The Soldiers and family of the 27th Infantry Regiment gather at the 60th Annual Holy Family Home exchange event with Mrs. Yuko O’Reilly, the mother of the Wolfhounds, and the host children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, at the cake cutting/ welcome ceremony at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 24, 2017.This event kicks off the two week Wolfhound event of hosting four children from the orphanage. The tradition of helping the Holy Family Home started when Master Sgt. Hugh O’Reilly of the 27th Infantry Regiment came across the war torn site and decided to help rebuild the structure and sponsor the children. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Regiment)

“Today, we welcome our children from Oasaka, Japan. This tradition celebrates the 60th year of our Holy Family Home children traveling to Hawaii to live with our Wolfhound family,” said Lt. Col. Valent Bernat III, commander, 1-27th Inf. Bn. “The compassionate Wolfhounds of the 27th Infantry Regiment will never falter in our love and support for the Holy Family Home Orphanage,” said Bernat.

Following the welcome ceremony, two Wolfhounds – Sgts. Marvin Menafee and Ronnie Villahermosa – invited the children back to their homes to give them a glimpse into the life of an American family and experience the vibrant Hawaiian culture.

“It was an amazing experience having Yoshiki and Kyo as members of our family for their summer visit. My kids, Prestyn and Tristyn, learned so much from them in their short time here. We were all honored to be a part of this event,” said Sgt. Ronnie Villahermosa, 1 -27 Inf. Bn. chaplain’s assistant.

The children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, do a ceremonial dance about bringing in the harvest for the Soldiers and family member of the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds) at the Regimental Picnic on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 7, 2017. These children are here due to a random encounter with Master Sgt. Hugh O'Reilly, a former Wolfhound, during World War II. O'Reilly came across the orphanage after it had been ravaged by war and he wanted to help the children. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, do a ceremonial dance about bringing in the harvest for the Soldiers and family member of the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds) at the Regimental Picnic on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 7, 2017. These children are here due to a random encounter with Master Sgt. Hugh O’Reilly, a former Wolfhound, during World War II. O’Reilly came across the orphanage after it had been ravaged by war and he wanted to help the children. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The children spent more time with the battalion on Wolfhound Day, where Mrs. O’Reilly shared the history of Holy Family Home and her family’s role in the 60-year tradition. They toured the battalion headquarters before moving to the Schofield Barracks cemetery, where Sgt. Maj. O’Reilly is laid to rest.

The children, the O’Reilly family and the Wolfhounds paid their respects to the man whose selfless service led to the continued spirit of community and outreach within the 27th Inf. Regt.

The group then moved on to the Lightning obstacle course, where the Japanese children and Wolfhound families attempted many of the obstacles that Wolfhounds use during their combat physical training. They also had the opportunity to try on military-grade night vision goggles, traverse a similar indoor course with no light and engage in “combat” with Soldiers of Coldsteel Company, by throwing water balloons at them.

Kyo Sato, a child from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, places a lei at the grave of Master Sgt. Hugh O'Reilly on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 27, 2017. The importance of this gesture is because O'Reilly came across the war torn orphanage during World War II and decided that he needed to help these children. After returning to his compound, O'Reilly collected money from his fellow Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds) and donated it to the home for repairs and renovations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Kyo Sato, a child from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, places a lei at the grave of Master Sgt. Hugh O’Reilly on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 27, 2017. The importance of this gesture is because O’Reilly came across the war torn orphanage during World War II and decided that he needed to help these children. After returning to his compound, O’Reilly collected money from his fellow Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds) and donated it to the home for repairs and renovations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The following day, the sponsor families and Wolfhound command team met with Mayor Kirk Caldwell at Honolulu Hale, the official seat of the City and County of Honolulu. Caldwell issued a formal proclamation graciously thanking the children and Wolfhounds for their enduring support of the Holy Family Home tradition.

“During times of war, Soldiers recognize valor in combat through medals and awards, but during times of peace, we recognize honor and charity through our relationships with the people we protect,” said Bernat.

With that legacy on their minds, the children enjoyed their weekend with their host families before attending the regimental picnic, which was hosted by Gunslinger Co. The picnic represented the best of what the Wolfhounds and the Soldiers of Hawaii have to offer, a day full of burgers, hot dogs, shaved ice and ice cream, football and Frisbee.

The combined forces of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 27th Inf. turned out to celebrate the Wolfhound Regiment, the Holy Family Home Orphanage and the spirit of charity that binds them together. At the end of the day, the visiting children thanked the Wolfhounds for their hospitality with a traditional Japanese dance performance.

After the picnic, Yoshiki, Kyo, Koume and Momoka went home with new host families, allowing them to experience new perspectives within the Wolfhound ohana. Capt. David Beaumont of Hellhound Co. and Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Henning of Coldsteel Co. opened their homes to them and brought them to see the sights of Oahu.

The families treated the visiting children to a veritable vacation in paradise, spending the remaining week between batting cages, beautiful lagoons and authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

At the end of the week, Borzoi Co. held the Holy Family Home Farewell Ceremony to give the children a lasting memory of the Wolfhounds and island of Oahu.

Families and guests of the regiment gathered for a large group photo to commemorate the two week event, and the command team of 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt. presented the host families with thank-you gifts for their contributions to the Holy Family Home heritage.

Following the “passing of the helmet,” a tradition dating back to Sgt. Maj. O’Reilly’s charity collection after World War II, the Wolfhounds bid a bittersweet farewell to the visiting children.

Mahalo to Yoshiki, Kyo, Koume, Momka and the Holy Family Home Orphanage for the opportunity to uphold this honored tradition.

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