Friday, April 1, 2011

Female POWs prove women can endure war's hardships

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 30, 2011) -- Maj. Rhonda Cornum could see her breath when she awoke on the fourth day of ground fighting during Operation Desert Storm.

It was February 1991, and the flight surgeon combated the chilly Iraqi morning by slipping on her jacket and nursing a few cups of hot coffee.

She was headed out on a routine flight to shuttle passengers, when her UH-60 Black Hawk crew received a call telling them their mission had changed and was now a rescue. That call changed Cornum's life forever.

A fighter pilot, Air Force Capt. Bill Andrews, had been shot down behind enemy lines and suffered a broken leg. Cornum's crew was the closest aircraft around.

"Unfortunately we flew right over a big bunker full of weapons and they shot the tail off my helicopter ... and they shot me," said Cornum, now a brigadier general.

Cornum was one of three Soldiers to survive the 140-mile-per-hour crash. She suffered two broken arms, a bullet wound to her shoulder, and a torn knee, only to be dragged from the wreckage and taken into Iraqi captivity.

She was held in a primitive underground jail cell for eight days in what she calls "austere" conditions. She was also sexually molested by an Iraqi Soldier while being transported to the prison, but said being fondled was low on her list of things going wrong that day.

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