Steve RiffonSteve Riffon currently is working in the Veterans and Military Family Support Headquarters after having served as the interim director of the WVU Veterans Affairs organization. Steve earned his undergraduate degree from WVU in elementary education. He has a master’s degree in Quality Management from Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts.
A native of West Virginia, Steve Riffon grew up in Morgantown and attended St. Francis High School. Not long after his high school graduation, he married and then enlisted into the U.S. Air Force. After completing basic military training, he attended an administrative school at Keesler Air Force base (AFB) in Biloxi, Mississippi. He then was assigned to the 803d Combat Support Group at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona.
While still assigned to the 803d, Steve was selected to compete for, and then earned, a ‘Below-the-zone’ promotion to E-4 pinning on this rank nine months ahead of his peers.
Steve’s first transfer landed him at Patrick AFB in in Brevard County, Florida, with an assignment with the Eastern Space and Missile Center (ESMC), where he became a contract administrator. He simultaneously administered several contracts totally $3.5 million dollars. His responsibility was to ensure the U.S. Air Force was receiving quality results from each contractor.
After separating from the military to finish his undergraduate degree at West Virginia University, Steve was accepted into Air Force ROTC, Detachment 915. In May 1986, he received his WVU diploma and his commission as a second lieutenant.
The next month, Steve departed for Vandenberg AFB in California for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile School. After completing the 13-week course, Steve was assigned to the 44th Strategic Missile Wing, 68th Strategic Missile Squadron. At the squadron level, he earned the leadership position as Deputy Flight Commander, Oscar Launch Control Center (LCC). Steve then was hired by the Wing Commander as an instructor, where he wrote training documents and operated and trained other missile crew members in the LCC missile simulator.
After a year of working as an instructor at the Wing level, Steve returned to his squadron to upgrade to Missile Combat Crew Commander. A few months after his upgrade, he became the Alternate Command Post Flight Commander – the third in the Chain-of-Command during a nuclear conflict. During this time, Steve also earned the 20th Air Force Crew Member Excellence Award for superior performance during multiple missile proficiency evaluations.
During this time, Steve was one of six crew members selected to meet with the Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev, the Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces.
After his crew duty, Steve was assigned to 4315th Combat Crew Training Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This was a “hand-picked” squadron. Steve trained military officers in missile launch procedures. He also became the section chief of the on-site and mobile training unit that taught newly assigned instructors how to teach in a classroom environment and in a missile simulator.
While at Vandenberg AFB, Steve was board selected into the regular Air Force. He also was board selected for his next assignment to Cape Cod Air Station, working in the 6th Space Warning Squadron (SWS) with the primary mission of early warning. This was a joint military assignment with Canadian military.
A secondary function of this unit was to track satellites and provide satellite reconnaissance data to NORAD. This included high priority satellites, which involved the tracking of satellites burning back into the earth’s atmosphere and high elliptical satellite orbits that had a trajectory resembling incoming ICBMs. Additionally, the 6th SWS collected data for the U.S. Navy during submarine Trident missile launches.
Steve also briefed a Taiwanese military delegation about the phased array sensor used at the 6th SWS. This delegation was on a fact-finding mission to learn about establishing an early warning sensor in Taiwan. The sensor went active in 2014.
Steve declined his next assignment to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, and retired from the Air Force. He then returned to West Virginia at the request of his wife.
Shortly after returning to Morgantown, Steve was hired as an assistant director of Financial Aid. He and his staff ensured the students received the best possible service. During his 15 years in this position, an estimated 1.3 million customers asked for assistance with their financial aid.