'Wolfhounds' bring holiday cheer to Japanese orphans
December 19, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Filled with holiday spirit and softly humming Christmas tunes, 27th Infantry Regiment "Wolfhounds," Soldiers and family members gathered at the Tropics Recreation Center, here, Dec. 15, for an annual gift wrapping party.
The party continued the long tradition started in 1947 by Sgt. Hugh F.X. O'Rielly when "Wolfhounds" eagerly wrapped presents to send to the Holy Family Home in Osaka, Japan.
Freshly wrapped gifts piled quickly along the tables. Donations from the United Japanese Society of Hawaii, the Mililani Rotary Club and community members included stuffed animals, games, crayons and Hawaii T-shirts.
For more than 50 years, Wolfhound Soldiers have put smiles on the faces of many children as they deliver Christmas cheer. Sgt. Jason Anderson, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, and Sgt. Alphanso Banton, 2-27th Inf. Regt., are currently in Osaka visiting the more than 130 orphans and showering them with the donated gifts. The Soldiers will return the day after Christmas, allowing them to spend the holiday playing and sharing the special day with the children.
"I know they appreciate this greatly," said Anderson. "Our unit has a proud history and relationship with the orphanage. I'm happy to help continue the tradition."
O'Rielly established this relationship with the orphanage upon a visit following World War II. After noticing the severe lack of bare necessities and the poor upkeep of the facilities, O'Rielly collected donations from Soldiers in the regiment to aid the young orphans. A Christmas visit to the orphanage came two years later as part of a Red Cross outreach mission. Gradually, the Wolfhounds came to adopt the orphanage.
Through the community support and dedication of the Soldiers, the relationship continued to prosper.
In 1957, a new tradition started as children were invited to Hawaii to spend a few weeks with the Wolfhounds. Each year, children and their escorts stay with a volunteer family to experience military life and catch a glimpse of the aloha spirit.
"These traditions help strengthen the long friendship between the regiment and the Holy Family Home," said Capt. Greg Luttman, rear detachment executive officer, 2-27th Inf. Regt.
From infants to high school students, all children residing at the Holy Family Home will enjoy a Merry Christmas through the support of the Wolfhounds.
"All we want is for the hopes and dreams of these children to come true," said Luttman. "And it starts with the bond and display of brotherhood between two different cultures."