DVIDS – News – ‘Wolfhounds’ overcome obstacles to continue supporting adopted Japanese orphanage


OSAKA, Japan – Kiyoshi Inaoka remembered as a young Japanese orphan staring at a tall figure towering over him. As his eyes focused, he saw a pale-faced man wearing a brown shirt adorned with shiny medals and a unique patch of taro leaf cloth with a yellow lightning bolt patch sewn onto his shoulder. .

Sixty-five years later, Inaoka returned to the Holy Family Home orphanage here, where he had spent his youth, to raise a glass to toast the arrival of six U.S. Army soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment. infantry of the 25th Infantry Division, historically named the “Wolfhounds”. .” In 1957, the Wolfhounds took Inaoka and three other orphans to Hawaii. The orphans were taken in by Hawaiian dignitaries and US Army Wolfhound soldiers and it created a lifelong memory for Inaoka, who would also be the first child to be adopted into a family outside of Japan, 8 years after the first Wolfhound discovered the orphanage.

“Even though the soldier I met 65 years ago is not here, but generations of the same Wolfhounds are here today,” he said. “It makes me happy to be here with you today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget what the Wolfhounds have done for me and the Holy Family.

The soldiers came from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Aloha Osaka tradition.

The start of something significant

The relationship began in 1949, when the great American soldier assigned to the regiment, stationed in Japan, visited the orphanage. Then the sergeant. 1st Class Hugh O’Reilly was surprised by the deplorable conditions of the home, which had children with little food, clothing and inadequate housing.

Born in 1914, O’Reilly, a New York native, enlisted at age 18 and spent most of his time in Hawaii and New York before leaving the military in 1941. Upon entering the United United in World War II, he soon enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Guadalcanal, New Caledonia and Guam with an anti-aircraft unit. In 1948, he enlisted in the army where he was assigned to the legendary 27th Infantry Regiment.

After visiting the orphanage that same day, O’Reilly asked members of the Wolfhound Units for help and donations and collected $143, which he donated to the orphanage. He then organized his Wolfhound Society to adopt the orphanage to further support them. For the next six months, he and other company members would help repair the orphanage.

“The charity and selflessness that SGM O’Reilly began 73 years ago transformed an idea that continues to this day that invigorates and enlivens a unique culture in the mind of every Wolfhound soldier today,” said 1st Lt. Samuel Pool, an infantry officer assigned to the regiment’s 1st Battalion.

Holy Family Home – A Community Home

A few years later, the O’Reilly and the 27th Infantry Regiment deployed to the Korean Peninsula during the Korean War. However, O’Reilly continued the tradition of supporting the house in Korea, and in 1951 he managed to raise nearly $10,500 in donations for the house.

The orphanage currently houses about 180 children, 30 of whom are infants. It is made up of employees and volunteers. Members of the local community and businesses also lent their support to make this event happen.

“This would not have been possible without the support of local businesses, community, staff and anonymous donors who also helped us organize this historic event,” said Alan Okami, President of Peace Bridge. Peace Bridge was only formed in 2007 after the death of Hugh O’Reilly, Sr.

This year, however, Peace Bridge wanted to bring more joy to more than a few children. They wanted all the kids in the orphanage to see Hawaii. They instead hosted “Hawaii in Osaka” and invited the Wolfhounds to continue the long-standing tradition.

“On behalf of Wolfhounds, we would like to thank Holy Family House, Peace Bridge, U.S. Army Japan, U.S. Consulate General, Osaka City Council, Wolfhound Association for making this possible,” Pool said. “This is one of the most important and enduring civil-military relationships in the history of Japan and the U.S. military and it continues because of your hard work.”

A New Wolf Pack – Same Thirst…for Something More Meaningful

Throughout the ages, images of young soldiers guarding and protecting children always bring a sense of peace and a sense of purpose to them in a faraway land, said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Aguilar, a native of the Philippines and an infantryman with 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Reg.
“It’s being part of something bigger than yourself and seeing the children’s happiness makes it even more special.”

With the combined efforts, donations and coordination of Peace Bridge, Wolfhound Association, soldiers, family members of the 27th Inf. Reg. and Army leadership support in the U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Army Japan, and 25th Inf. Div., the Wolfhounds and Peace Bridge were able to bring some of the “Aloha spirit” to the kids.

“Since 1949, through numerous wars, deployments, recessions, natural disasters, typhoons and now a pandemic, no matter what hardships we face, Wolfhounds will continue to fight 110% to keep this tradition alive,” Pool said. “I can say with confidence that every Wolfhound wishes they could be here right now.”

As the American Wolfhound soldiers towered over the young orphans, they heard something of amazement. A US Army soldier speaking to them in their native language. “Hello, my name is Pool, nice to meet you,” the Wolfpack leader said in fluent Japanese.

Staff and children look at each other like they can’t believe it was him talking. Pool, lived in Japan when his family was stationed here as a child and attended a Japanese school and learned the language.

As the children colored and participated in some games, activities and coloring, they slowly got closer to the Wolfhound Soldiers and started talking, smiling and laughing.

“Having to follow Covid-19 protocols for 2½ years, this was an event that was well received by the children,” said Peace Bridge Treasurer Wayne Takahashi. “The smiles on the kids’ faces as they participated in activities and received prizes and their personalized Wolfhound t-shirts were priceless.”

On Christmas Day 1949, a Wolfhound soldier, who wanted to bring peace and love to the children of the Holy Family home in Japan.

“Wolfhounds’ commitment to Holy Family Home has continued every year since to ensure that at least one gift is presented to every child,” Takahashi said. “In the two years since COVID-19, the Wolfhounds still sent over 30 gift boxes to make sure every child had a present on Christmas Day.

This bond ultimately created one of the most important legacies in the history of the United States Army‘s 27th Infantry Regiment, which has never wavered.

“The real gift is that the soldiers are here to hang out with the kids,” said Huge O’Reilly Jr., son of SGM O’Reilly and vice president of Peace Bridge. “The soldiers are the heroes, and all around the orphanage you can see images of Wolfhounds from the past 73 years and the children will remember this day for the rest of their lives.”

For more information on the history of SGM O’Reilly and how to donate or support the Peace Bridge organization, visit www.peace-bridge.org.

If you are a former or current Wolfhound soldier, please visit the 27th Infantry Regimental Historical Society at www.wolfhoundpack.org.

Date taken: 09.03.2022
Date posted: 09.12.2022 03:07
Story ID: 429047
Location: OSAKA, OSAKA, JP

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