One Important Tradition the 'Wolfhounds' Will Carry on During the Army-Navy Game

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When Army Master Sgt. Hugh O'Reilly saw Japanese children malnourished and their home a shambles, he decided to do something about it. For the rest of his life. (U.S. Embassy Japan)

When Army takes the field against Navy Dec. 12, the team will be wearing a uniform inspired by the 27th Infantry Regiment, also known as the 'Wolfhounds.' The storied unit has a history dating back to the 19th Century, earning its nickname while fighting Bolsheviks in Russian Siberia. It has since served in almost every American conflict since World War II.

The Wolfhounds are being recognized for their valiant stand against a North Korean onslaught at the Pusan Perimeter, a stand that kept U.S. and South Korean forces from being driven into the sea.

Read: Army's Uniform for Army-Navy Game Inspired by Wolfhounds of Korean War

Drew Meyerowich, a former Wolfhound commander and West Point old grad, wants to recognize a tradition that has less to do with combat and more to do with the heart of the unit.

Meyerowich is organizing a Zoom viewing of the 2020 Army-Navy Game to raise funds and awareness for orphans in Japan. That’s a fundraising project the Wolfhounds have been doing since 1949.

After the end of World War II, the 27th Infantry Regiment, assigned to occupation duty, visited the Holy Family Home orphanage in Osaka, Japan with the Red Cross. It was Christmas Day.

The soldiers saw the impoverished conditions in which the children lived, took up a collection on the next payday and donated it to the orphanage.

That charitable connection between the unit and orphans in that region continues to this day. The Wolfhounds regularly support children at the Holy Family Home orphanage through Peace-Bridge.org.

Yugen Izuka and Yuto Nakamura, two of four children arrive from the Holy Family Home, an orphanage in Osaka, Japan. They are welcomed with cheers and greetings by soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Army)

"Their support meant survival to the children and those caring for them," writes Sister Maurice, Daughter of Charity at Holy Family Home. "Holy Family Home has grown into the social welfare Institution it is today, caring for over 135 children and 40-45 infants who are not blessed with their own families to love and nourish them."

Meyerowich is a retired Army officer and 1987 West Point graduate who earned the Silver Star as a part of the quick reaction force that responded to the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters in Somalia in 1993. This event was depicted in the film "Black Hawk Down." He later commanded the 27th Infantry Regiment during the Iraq War.

Then-Lt. Col. Drew Meyerowich, Commander of 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. speaks at a memorial to honor U.S. Army Sgt. Alexander Gagalac at Forward Operating Base McHenry, on Sept. 15. Sgt. Gagalac was killed in Hawijah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his convoy, (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Dallas Edwards)

Today, he's a Kansas City-based executive and community leader, who maintains deep ties to both the Wolfhound veterans and their tradition of supporting the orphans of Holy Family Home.

Meyerowich is the President of Defense Logistic, LLC. When the ownership of the company learned about the Wolfhound tradition, they wanted to get involved in helping raise funds for Peace-Bridge.org.

When Army announced the 2020 Army-Navy game uniforms would honor the Wolfhounds, the means of raising funds became apparent. So starting in 2020, Meyerowich is organizing a viewing of the game for the orphanage, continuing the Wolfhound tradition.

"When the army announced the new uniform this year, the Wolfhounds got all riled up about it," says Meyerowich. "We're seeing the tradition and passion for the Army-Navy rivalry but we're also seeing the tradition and passion for the history of the Wolfhounds. We're going to tune in and watch Army kick Navy's a** but we're also going to see a legacy of compassion."

Drew Meyerowich (center) at a reunion with other 'Wolfhound' veterans. (Courtesy of Drew Meyerowich)

He plans to make the viewing and fundraising an annual event, not just for the Kansas City area, but for Wolfhounds everywhere. Whether they're based in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii or beyond, he will invite Wolfhound veterans to watch the game in-person (post-pandemic) or via Facebook and zoom.

"Next year, they [Army] are going to have a new commemorative uniform with some other unit on it," Meyerowich says. "But we think it's worth sharing our 71-year history of supporting Holy Family Home. It's bigger than one individual, one company, and that's the way we want it. The Army-Navy Game, the Wolfhound uniform, these things have collided and we can't just stop it after this year."

To learn more about the history of the Wolfhounds and their charitable efforts toward the children of Holy Family Home, visit Peace-Bridge.org. You can also "Pass the Hat" like a real Wolfhound by visiting the orphanage's GoFundMe site.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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