History of Tradition
The Holy Family Home was established in Osaka, Japan by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Their mission was to house and care for the many orphans living in Osaka following the devastation of WWII.
The 27th Infantry Regiment Wolfhounds were stationed in Osaka Japan during the Occupation following WWII. After becoming aware of the Holy Family Home and the plight of these innocent children in 1949, the Wolfhounds dedicated themselves to making life better for the children of the home.
The Wolfhounds began “Passing the Hat” to collect funds for the orphanage, and dedicated their free time to building a new home for the children. “Pass the Hat” became a payday tradition, one that all Wolfhounds gladly contributed to.
Nothing but the highest credit must be given these American men for the depth of compassion and caring shown to Japanese orphans after a devastating war for all sides.
In 1950 the 27th Infantry Regiment was one of the first American units sent to Korea. When the time came to deploy, the soldiers believed that the orphanage was in peril. A week before their first payday in Korea, soldiers reaffirmed their commitment to Holy Family Home and to the surprise of the Sisters, the Wolfhounds contributions kept coming. The funds received from the soldiers during the years of occupation during the Korean War helped build a new orphanage complex that greatly improved the lives of the children.
The last payday in June of 1951 was a memorable one. The Wolfhounds raised a record breaking sum of $10,400 for Holy Family Home – over $92,000 today!
“Three Stripes in the Sun” - Columbia Pictures, 1955
As a result of their efforts with the Holy Family Home, the Wolfhounds — already renowned as fierce fighters — earned a new nickname, “The Gentle Wolfhounds.” Their generosity to the orphanage became the focus of much public attention with features in the New Yorker, Life Magazine, and national newspapers. In 1955, the Columbia Pictures film, “Three Stripes in the Sun” told the story of Sergeant Hugh O’Reilly and the events surrounding this unique relationship between the Wolfhounds and Holy Family Home.
It is impossible to separate the actions of Sergeant Major Hugh O’Reilly
from the association of the 27th Infantry Regiment and the orphanage. He was the catalyst and remains a source of inspiration to generations of Wolfhounds. But as Sergeant Major Hugh O’Reilly insisted, “the special relationship between the Holy Family Home and Wolfhounds is greater than one man; it has become part of the Wolfhound’s identity and lives on as a lasting symbol of American compassion.”
Every year since 1957, the Wolfhounds have hosted children from
the Holy Family Home for an once-in-a-lifetime trip in Hawaii. Another tradition began the following year when the Wolfhounds sent two soldiers to the Holy Family Home to act as “Father Christmas,” bearing gifts for all the children.