SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.–Air Force Col. Stephen DiFonzo retired on Friday with a sendoff from a colleague he met in his earliest days in the military. “I was honored when he accepted my request to officiate my retirement ceremony,” said DiFonzo of Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Touhill, chief information officer and director, Command, Control, Communications & Computer Systems (TCJ/6), U.S. Transportation Command.
The two first met when DiFonzo was a freshman and Touhill a junior, and both were enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Penn State. While there, Touhill was in the professional officer course (cadet officers, juniors and seniors) and DiFonzo was in the general military course (cadet enlisted, freshman and sophomores). “I’m proud to have been his first commander and last boss,” said Touhill at the retirement ceremony.
“He [Touhill] was sure of what he wanted with respect to the Air Force and I was still kicking the tires,” said DiFonzo, who most recently served as division chief, USTRANSCOM, operations and readiness, TCJ6. “My first impressions of him from Penn State were that he was focused on the mission and was very demanding to get his point understood.” He joked, “It was up to him to set the example and me to learn and follow. Thirty-one years later, the same thing is still happening.”
Touhill and DiFonzo crossed paths professionally 10 years after their ROTC days, both times at Scott Air Force Base. First, DiFonzo worked plans and resources for Air Mobility Command communications (AMC/A6) and Touhill was the 375th communications group commander. Second, DiFonzo was at Air Force Communications Agency and Touhill was the director, AMC/A6.
“It was not until he arrived at USTRANSCOM that I worked directly under him,” said DiFonzo. “For the last year, under his leadership he renewed my appreciation for him as a senior leader in our Air Force.
“Steve was scary smart,” Touhill recalled to family and friends attending the retirement ceremony. “And no matter the challenge, he would rise above and excel.” Touhill noted several of DiFonzo’s professional accomplishments after his ROTC experience, adding, “He consistently served well above what was expected for his age and experience. He was a plank owner as the Air Force stood up its cyber capabilities. And he led TCJ/6-O and this command in what is arguably best cyber organization in the Department.”
Of rounding out his career with one of the people who was there when he started it, DiFonzo said, “it’s icing on the cake, with ice cream and a cherry. My cousin commissioned me 27 years ago to the day of my retirement ceremony, but Cadet Touhill welcomed me into a brotherhood that he now graces me with his blessing as I transition out. I serve a God…who planned this opportunity just for me…how sweet it is.”
– USTRANSCOM –
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