In the Corps, you can get a bunch of ribbons and medals for just being at the right place at the right time. You don’t have to do much. Hell, sometimes you don’t have to do anything. Every Marine gets a National Defense Ribbon straight out of boot camp. You get it for joining the military during a time of war. The Global War on Terrorism Medal is received for just being alive for 2 months in the fleet. The Sea Service ribbon is received for being alive for a year overseas.
I knew a guy that carried batteries from point A to point B. Since it was considered “humanitarian work,” he got a Humanitarian Service Medal.
Look at this Marine (Peter Pace) General’s fruit salad. The size of it is ridiculous. Most of his ribbons don’t seem to mean much. I honestly think that if you achieve the rank of General, you either get ribbons thrown at you though the gravitational pull of your rank or you just make up ribbons and then proceed to wear them.
Getting ribbons for breathing since 1775.