Wolfhound families open homes to orphans
August 21, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Four children from the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan, spent 10 days soaking in American and Hawaiian hospitality with families from the 1st and 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, "Wolfhounds."
The children learned about the acts of kindness performed by the "Wolfhounds" that have continued for more than half a century from Lt. Col. Don Brown, commander, 27th Inf. Regt., during a storytelling session, July 28.
"What a great opportunity for our Soldiers, our leaders and me personally to take part in this and keep this tradition going," Brown said.
The children from the orphanage - Toki Yoshimura, Yusuke Katsuma, Izumi Takenaka and Chihiro Aoyama - sat with members of their Hawaii host families and their Army interpreters Sgt. Michelle Hughes and Staff Sgt. Miguel Marin-Campagne.
The children, ages 10 and 11, hosted this year by Wolfhound families, include two boys and two girls. When asked what they liked best about Hawaii, Yusuke said "the pool." The girls liked the beach.
During their trip, the boys stayed first with Sgt. Michael and Lisa McConaghy, A Company, 1-27th Inf. Regt., and their children, Chase, 11, and Michael, 6; then with Staff Sgt. Santos and Edith Carreras of the 2-27th Inf. Regt., and their children, Andre, 14, Steven, 12, and Crystal, 2.
Meanwhile, the girls stayed with Capt. David and Tanya Webb of C Co., 1-27th Inf. Regt., who have an 18-month-old daughter, Mikayla; then with Capt. Christopher and Pam Robbins of the 2-27th Inf. Regt., and their children, Kristin, 12, and Victoria, 10.
The orphans took trips to the Polynesian Cultural Center, spent a day at Menehune Mac chocolate factory, Hawaiian Chip Co., and Ko Aloha Ukulele. They also visited the Outrigger Canoe Club, Dole Plantation, Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
Michael McConaghy said he really enjoys the experience with the youngsters.
"It's an honor for them to allow us to do it," he declared.
"We're really excited. We're having a blast," added his wife, Lisa.
"It's a neat opportunity to share a little bit of love with these kids that don't have families of their own," said David Webb. "Bringing them into our family is an honor, and extending the tradition that our unit, the Wolfhounds, has had with the orphanage for 50 years."
Tanya Webb said, "We're having a great time with the girls doing a lot of local things. I think they're having a lot of fun."
The Webbs planned to treat the girls to a hula class taught by a professional hula dancer who speaks Japanese, eat shave ice and go to Waimea Bay.
The friendship with the Holy Family Orphanage began in Japan after World War II, when the late Sgt. Maj. Hugh O' Reilly, a Wolfhound, began collecting money and gifts for the orphanage among his fellow Soldiers.
In 1949, Sgt. O' Reilly and about a dozen Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment were invited to attend a Christmas party held at the orphanage. After realizing that the orphanage and children were in desperate need of basic items, Sgt. O'Reilly began enlisting friends to seek donations.
On New Year's morning, the Soldiers delivered $143 to the administrators of the home, which for the time was a substantial sum.
Then in 1957, the Wolfhounds also began bringing the children to visit Hawaii, a tradition that continues today.
Even after leaving Japan, O'Reilly continued to promote the cultural exchange between the Wolfhounds and the orphanage until his death in 2006.
Following a reception at the Honolulu International Airport, City and County of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann proclaimed July 27, 2009, "Wolfhounds Day," to recognize the contributions of the military unit.