On Christmas Day in 1949, a dozen Soldiers with the 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” were invited by a Red Cross representative to a holiday party at the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan.
The Soldiers, stationed near Osaka just after World War II, were touched by the living conditions and children at the orphanage. On the next payday, the Wolfhounds took up a collection and donated the proceeds to the Holy Family Home on New Year's Day, beginning one of the most unique and enduring military-civil relationships in the Army.
Over the years, the Wolfhounds have raised thousands of dollars for the orphanage, shared holidays with the children in Japan, and even had a movie made about their lasting bond.
The relationship continues today as Soldiers and Families with 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, came together on December 4th at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to donate and wrap gifts to send to the Holy Family Home.
“It's a long standing tradition, and it just goes to show that it doesn't matter what nation you're from, in the bigger picture, people help people,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas J. Heston, senior enlisted advisor of 1-27 IN. “And I think sometimes that's lost. And it's important to remember and remind our soldiers [that] these are type of things we're fighting for: not just America's way, but the right of all humans.”
Soldiers and their families came together to wrap donated gifts, write letters, and make holiday ornaments to send to children at the Holy Family Homes orphanage.
Over 600 donated gifts were sorted and organized while Soldiers and Families enjoyed a small holiday party. Some children even had the chance to share their holiday wishes with an infantryman playing Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, many planned events with the Holy Family Home were canceled or scaled down due to concerns over COVID-19. Normally, the 27th Infantry Regiment has a selection process to send Soldiers to the orphanage to deliver the gifts, interact with the children, and celebrate the holiday season with them.
“Probably the best part of sending the gifts over is the interaction between our Soldiers and the children,” Heston said. “The kids absolutely love it, and they look forward to it, so it's heartbreaking that we can't do that this year, but we can still send our love, send gifts, we're going to send messages, saying 'we haven't gone anywhere, just because we're away this year. We'll be back next year!'”
What began as an embodiment of the Wolfhounds tenet of “ferocious in battle, compassionate in peace” continues today as a unique example of Soldiers living the Army Values.
“We love to help the children out because, you know, I've got a steady paycheck in the Army,” said Pfc. Tyler Armstrong, an indirect fire infantryman with 1-27 IN. “I'm really glad to donate and help wrap to hopefully make their Christmas a little bit brighter.”