National Western Stock Show Announces 2024 Citizen of the West

The National Western Stock Show, presented by Centura Health proudly announces distinguished military and business leader General Ralph E. “Ed” Eberhart as the 2024 Citizen of the West. This prestigious award recognizes those who embody the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer – a true representative of Western lifestyle, ideals, agricultural heritage, and traditions. A committee of community leaders selects recipients. 

General Eberhart has a long-standing military and business career and has made significant contributions to the United States and the defense of our Nation. Eberhart is a proud graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he served as a Cadet Wing Commander. General Eberhart’s active duty military career spanned 36 years.

General Eberhart’s most significant contributions came during his tenure as Commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). He held these positions during a critical period in American history. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush asked General Eberhart to stand up USNORTHCOM. Under his guidance, NORAD and USNORTHCOM implemented numerous measures to enhance homeland defense and protect against future threats.

 General Eberhart’s experience also includes a Command Pilot rating with more than 5,000 flight hours, which includes more than 300 combat missions. General Eberhart has served as the Commander of U.S. Forces, Japan; Commander of the 5th Air Force, Japan; Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force; Commander of Air Combat Command; Commander of Air Force Space Command; and Commander in Chief, U.S. Space Command.

General Eberhart has received numerous accolades, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure Japan, the United States Air Force Academy Distinguished Graduate Award, El Pomar Foundation Award for Excellence, and the American College Soldier-Citizen Award among numerous others.

In addition, General Eberhart has been a member of the Armed Forces Benefit Association (AFBA) since 1987 and has served on the Board of Directors since 1997. He served as the AFBA Chairman from October 2002 – November 2004. In December 2004, General Eberhart was appointed by the AFBA Board as President of AFBA. In 2009, he was appointed Chairman and President of AFBA. He retired as President in March 2020 but remained active as the AFBA Chairman until December 2022. 

Post active duty retirement, General Eberhart has served on the boards of several companies and nonprofits, including TERMA, Jacobs Engineering, Rockwell Collins, Triumph Group, VSE, and Segs4Vets. He was a U.S. Air Force Academy Association of Graduates Board director. He currently serves as a Trustee for the Falcon Foundation and a director on the board of the USAFA Endowment.

General Eberhart and his wife Karen reside in Colorado Springs. They are the proud parents of their two daughters, Erika and Jessica.

General Eberhart exhibits exceptional service to our country, armed forces, and community. He exemplifies our Western way of life and all the qualities befitting a great Citizen of the West. Please join us in honoring General Ralph E. “Ed” Eberhart as the 2024 Citizen of the West. 

General Eberhart will be honored as the 45th Citizen of the West during the annual award dinner on January 8, 2024. Proceeds from the event support the National Western Scholarship Trust, awarding 100 scholarships to students attending colleges and universities in Colorado and Wyoming for agricultural science, rural medicine, or veterinary medicine studies. 

To purchase tickets for the 2024 Citizen of the West event honoring General Eberhart, please contact Ashley Fischietto at 303-299-5560 or