Raffaele Riva was born in Palermo, Italy. On October 4, 1940, at age twelve, he became a member of the Italian Army. Raffaele Riva proved his skills as an intelligent and skilled airman who could repair anything from a broken gas pump to a helicopter rotor blade with equal ease.

Achievements of Raffaele Riva

In 1962, Riva enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed on Long Island for two years before being transferred to Germany in 1964. There he flew everything from “A” model Hueys to C-130s for six years until being honorably discharged in 1970 after receiving a direct commission into the U.S. Air Force. On May 1, 1970, at Lackland Air Force Base, he received his U.S. Air Force Wings. He was promoted to Major in 1972 and received a direct commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1974.

In 1975, he was assigned to the USAF Element of NATO’s Tactical Airlift Center, commanding general at Altenrhein, Switzerland as an operations officer and a C-130 instructor pilot. From 1980 until 1982, he worked in California for the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Morocco.

In 1983, Raffaele Riva was assigned to Headquarters Air Force in Washington D.C. as an assistant director of operations for “All” airlift programs and special projects, including the C-130 and Lockheed C-141 flight safety programs. He was promoted to Colonel on June 1, 1987, and in 1988, he graduated from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1990, he was assigned the Chief of Staff for Operations for the 9th Air Mobility Wing at Clark Air Base, Philippines. On September 1, 1991, he was taken prisoner during Iraqi aggression against his unit. Iraq held him as a POW for twenty-eight days during the war.

In 1992, he was promoted to Brigadier General, and on January 1, 1993, he served as the Deputy Commander of the 64th Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base in Washington. In August 1995, Raffaele Riva retired as a Brigadier General after serving over three decades in the Air Force. Refer to this article to learn more.


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