Hugh Francis Xavier O’Reilly was stationed with the 27th Infantry “Wolfhounds” at Camp Sakai during the U.S. military occupation of Japan — just five miles from the city of Osaka.
Christmas 1949 was a turning point in O’Reilly’s life. As one of only a dozen soldiers who accompanied a Red Cross field representative to a holiday party at the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, O’Reilly witnessed the poor conditions in which the orphans lived. He was moved to make a difference, and enlisted his fellow Wolfhounds to take up a collection for the orphanage. By “passing the hat” they raised $143 and donated it to Holy Family Home on New Year’s morning.
O’Reilly eventually made the plight of the orphanage known to every company of the regiment. As a result the Wolfhounds “adopted” the orphanage and donated their time and money to make the lives of the children better.
Throughout his life O’Reilly never turned his back on the Wolfhounds or the children of Holy Family Home orphanage. Through wars, overseas deployment and conflicts, changes of command and military reassignment, and his own retirement from the Regiment, O’Reilly made sure that the Wolfhounds promise to the orphans was kept.
O’Reilly was named the Honorary Regimental Sergeant Major after his retirement from Bank of Hawaii and served in this position until his death on June 23, 2006. His legacy lives on in the hearts of hundreds of orphans and all the Wolfhounds of the 27th Infantry Regiment, past, present and future.
Peace Bridge has dedicated itself to follow Hugh O’Reilly’s example of compassion and has pledged to not only continue, but to build upon this Legacy of Peace.