HONOLULU (KHNL) - Four children arrive in Honolulu for a trip of a lifetime. They flew in from Japan on Monday, and they're continuing a tradition started by the 27th Infantry Regiment's Wolfhounds almost 60 years ago.
It's a partnership formed between the Wolfhounds and an Osaka orphanage back in 1949. U.S. Army soldiers have been helping kids there ever since, and the tradition continues even to this day.
It's a common sight at the airport: parents eagerly waiting for their kids to come home.
"We're excited, a little bit nervous," said Krista Morrison, a mother from Ewa Beach. "We want to see their faces."
But this is a different kind of an airport pickup. The Morrisons and other families are welcoming orphans from Japan.
Folks from Schofield Barracks lined up to greet the kids, Hawaiian style. Shun-Pei, Taiki, Emiri and Mika traveled more than 4,000 miles to spend ten days with their host families.
"We can't wait to show them around and let them feel the love and presents from the Wolfpack family and 3rd Brigade," said Krista Morrison.
Obviously, there's a language barrier, but sometimes words aren't necessary.
For Master Sergeant Michael Morrison, it's a chance to be a kid again.
"If I could right now, I would start showing them around, different places on the island," he said. "Play ball, baseball, or soccer because from what I understand they both like soccer."
It started as a simple idea by a U.S. soldier back in 1949. While stationed in Japan, Hugh O'Reilly raised money to help a local orphanage. Almost sixty years later, that idea has become an annual event, bridging the gap between the east and west.
O'Reilly bought presents for the orphans on Christmas Day, but he wanted to do more.
"He thought of words: Christmas every pay day," said Yuko O'Reilly, his wife. "That's how he got the money from all the soldiers."
As the boys start their trip, their little sister already has plans for them.
"I wanna go to the beach tomorrow," said five-year-old Shannon Morrison.
So it's become a family affair. The Morrisons welcoming kids who don't have parents of their own.
"And so for us, it's an honor to bring them into our home," said Krista Morrison. "And to open our arms and our love that we have for Shannon to other children. It's just an honor for us and we're excited and honored that they're here."
A bunch of events are planned for the kids: a trip to the zoo, a good old fashioned summer barbecue, and even a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Now, kids in need half way around the world are getting the same type of treatment from the Wolfhounds. Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment have pledged to help orphans in Iraq. The Wolfhounds are carrying on the tradition, started in Japan 59 years ago.
"I look at these children and it just warms my heart and it makes me feel comfortable for what I stand for and what I serve the Army," said Lt. Col. Raul Gonzalez, an infantry commander.