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Connie Mussari says farewell to Hurlburt Field. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Staff Sgt. Angela Shepherd)
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Hurlburt Field icon says goodbye

Posted 10/27/2006   Updated 10/27/2006 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Angela Shepherd
16th SOW Public Affairs

10/27/2006 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Tuesday marks the end of a Hurlburt tradition as the Officer and Enlisted Hooches shut their doors forever to make way for a newer, collocated club. But as these landmarks see their last good days, another fixture on base has already seen hers.

Connie Mussari, the bartender and namesake for the officers' hooch, which is better known as Connie's Combat Hooch, shut the door on her last day at the hooch Oct. 20.

"I don't want to be here when they tear the hooch down. It's been a second home to me, so I'm going to leave a few days early so I can lock it up and go home like I have for the last 16-and-a-half years."

Connie got her start at the hooch the day it opened on June 29, 1990. It originally opened as a substitute for the Officers' Club when it was shut down for renovations, the club where she previously worked for more than 13 years.

"It was only supposed to be open for six months," she explained. "But over those few months, the hooch's personality really blossomed, and when the club finally reopened, everyone said, 'No, we want the hooch.'"

Looking at the hooch today, with its signatures, murals and signed dollar bills covering the walls and even the ceiling, it's hard to believe the place was ever anything less than full of personality. But its walls used to be completely barren.

"When we first opened, everyone asked me if they could write on the walls. At first, I thought, 'No, it took me three days to paint this place,'" she recalled. "But then I had a change of heart and said that once I signed, they could."
So she added the first of many memories onto the wall over the back door by writing, "It's not just a job, it's an adventure." And that's exactly what it's been for her.

"We've grown up together, and that includes everyone from lieutenants to colonels to generals. I've come to consider myself the 'mama of the boys.' I make sure we take care of all of our people, and so I'm extremely proud to say that in all of our years, through all of our adventures, we've never had a single DUI out of here."

Now, having left it all behind, she says there is one thing she will certainly miss.

"The people, my friends are what I'll miss most. And you know, I've made a lot of friends and met a lot of people over the years, even a lot of VIPs. But the ones in uniform have al-ways been my heroes," she said. "So to all my heroes in special operations, thank you for a great 16-year run."

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