Kerri Needle, Heidi and Erik Murkoff celebrate military moms at the first Special Delivery on August 7, 2013 in Okinawa Japan.
Kerri Needle, Heidi and Erik Murkoff celebrate military moms at the first Special Delivery on August 7, 2013 in Okinawa Japan.

The USO, what to expect, and target present Special Delivery: Pacific Tour 2019

by Marcie Smith West
USO Pacific

Okinawa, Japan. (October 23, 2019) - While military moms are used to being away from their support system, families in Guam, Japan, and South Korea face a unique set of challenges. In some cases, that support system may be on a completely opposite schedule. Modern technology allows for calls around the globe but cannot compensate for the time difference.

Heidi Murkoff, the author of the “What to Expect when you are Expecting” series was approached to see if she would donate copies of her book for a baby shower in the states and decided to deliver the books in person. The Murkoffs had so much fun that they wanted to make this a regular thing and met with the DoD, who recommend they partner with the USO. In consultation with the Department of Defense, three locations were chosen for the first showers: Fort Carson Colorado, Fort Campbell Kentucky, and Okinawa, Japan. Special Delivery held its inaugural overseas shower August 7, 2013 on Kadena Air Base. The goal of the program has been the same since its inception seven years ago, to connect moms to others at the same stage of life. Since then, the Special Delivery Tour has traveled annually throughout the USO Indo-Pacific Region engaging Moms in Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Okinawa and Korea.  The 2019 Pacific tour was no exception.

USO Hawaii hosted Heidi and the Special Delivery Tour in September and held Mom and Dad Showers at Schofield Barracks and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. During one of the question and answer session, a mom shared her current struggles with post partum depression. Heidi put her arms around the mom and opened the floor for other moms to share their personal experiences to support the mom.

The October tour began in Guam. USO Guam Area Director Leigh Graham was appreciative that the Murkoffs return to the island every year. “We appreciate the passion, energy and most important the engagement opportunities for the moms. It means so much to the moms and the whole island to have them here.”


Beth Ernst

MCAS Iwanuki was the next stop for the tour. USO Iwakuni Center Manager AJ Gray believes the tour fills an important need. He was a Family Readiness Officer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 for 8 years and saw unaccompanied expectant moms in his unit that had no immediate family. The Command Team hosted baby showers to make sure they had something before they had their babies.  After joining the USO AJ identified a need for new moms, and Special Delivery was one of the programs he pushed to the front . He admired how the program helped spouses, but really wanted to make sure the unaccompanied moms were also taken care of during their pregnancies.


Commander Nichols


Sgt Vigo Cpr Clemente

There was an entire new team at USO Yokota for this year’s third Mom Shower. Jessica Meadows, USO Yokota Field Program Manager was thrilled to see how her months of planning was executed the day of the event. She felt like all of the little details made the moms feel special. It was also the first Pacific location to host command leadership spouses at the shower this year. Jessica Payne came to the shower because she was asked. She also remembers being a new mom in a foreign country like the women who attended the shower. She held babies with local staff and volunteers while moms enjoyed their lunch.

The Murkoffs left mainland Japan just in time to miss Super Typhoon Hagibis and return to where the program began in Okinawa. The Dad Shower has always been promoted as “for military dads and other co parents to be.” For the first time in the program, the wives of two pregnant moms attended the dad shower. 


Winipher at Dad shower

With the growth at Camp Humphreys and the opening of the new hospital, it only made sense to host the last mom shower with the team at USO Humphreys. Moms will be able to deliver their babies on base starting November 15th. Two of those moms attended the shower at the Morning Calm. Brittany and Mercedes met just days before the shower in a parking lot. Brittany is expecting her fourth son and watched as Mercedes interacted with her toddler daughter. Mercedes took it as an opportunity to make a new friend. Brittany just arrived in Korea and was happy to meet Mercedes who has more experience in the country.


Britanny and Mercedes

Special Delivery exists to help moms like Brittany and Mercedes connect. At every stop in the tour, moms shared phone numbers and answered questions for one another during the question and answers sessions with Heidi. The partnership between the USO, What to Expect, and Target  provides a unique opportunity for families in the Pacific. In 2019, USO Pacific Areas delivered a total of eight mom showers, four dad showers, and four reunions during the tour.  621 moms, 88 dads, and 155 family members participated in the programs.  Special Delivery continues to fill a meaningful connection void for new moms and dads stationed overseas. 

To learn more about programs in the Pacific, visit: pacific.uso.org.

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