History of the 27th Infantry Regiment and the Holy Family Home
After World War II, the Holy Family Home was established in Osaka, Japan by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, to house the many orphans living in Osaka. The children lived in poor conditions due largely to a severe lack of funds.
On Christmas Day, 1949, about a dozen Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment accompanied a Red Cross field representative to a holiday party at the Holy Family Home. The orphanage was found to be in bad shape. On their next payday, the soldiers took up a collection for the orphanage. The men raised $143.00 and donated it to the orphanage on New Year's morning.
By the time the following payday rolled around, the plight of the orphans was known to all the soldiers of the Regiment. Gradually the Wolfhounds came to adopt the orphanage. For the next six months, soldiers of the Regiment, led by Master Sergeant Hugh O'Reilly, spent their spare time helping the Sisters to repair the orphanage. The soldiers came to know the children well and soon after, the Wolfhounds began collecting funds for the Holy Family Home on a regular basis.
The 27th Infantry Regiment was one of the first American regiments sent to Korea. When the time came to deploy, the soldiers were asking, "Are we going to keep up with the orphanage?" As a result, to the surprise of the Sisters, the collection continued as normal. The funds received during the years of occupation during the Korean War helped build an orphanage complex that greatly improved the lives of the children.
The last payday at the end of June in 1951 was a most memorable one. The Regiment raised a record-breaking $10,400 for the Holy Family Home. A letter was sent by the Sisters of Holy Family Home to the men of the Regiment that read, "May the love, gentleness, and care you so generously lavished on the unwanted little children of Japan return to you a thousand fold, and may your countrymen always remember the great part that the Wolfhounds played in carrying the Real Spirit of America to the land of cherry blossom buds into the hearts of little almond-eyed youngsters who will miss forever their beloved Wolfhounds."
The 27th Infantry's reputation in Korea soared and their generosity to the orphanage was the focus of much public attention toward this unique relationship. This attention culminated in 1955 with the production of the American Film "Three Stripes in the Sun" which told the story of MSG Hugh O'Reilly and the events surrounding the relationship between the Wolfhounds and the Holy Family Home.
In 1957, the Wolfhounds invited two children from the Holy Family Home to visit the soldiers and their families stationed in Hawaii, beginning a tradition that continues today. Another tradition began the following year when the Wolfhounds sent two soldiers to the Holy Family Home in Japan during Christmas to act as "Father Christmas." They visited the orphanage bearing gifts from the Wolfhounds and offered companionship that brought joy and happiness to the children.
The Wolfhounds care and compassion for these children is a long and lasting tradition that continues to this day.