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"I would have been afraid, except that I was so grateful to be alive." (Video Interview, Part I, 54:44)

   Rhonda Scott Cornum
Image of Rhonda Scott Cornum
Rhonda Cornum, 2003
War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Army
Unit: 2nd Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment
Service Location: Kuwait
Rank: Colonel
POW: Yes
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In a conflict as brief and lopsided as the Persian Gulf War, it may be surprising that there were actually American prisoners of war. Rhonda Cornum was one; she served with an Attack Helicopter Battalion as a medical officer, went down in a helicopter crash and for seven days was held by the Iraqis. She drew on her training as both a soldier and doctor to survive her brief but painful ordeal.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (10 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2  (117 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (10 items)
Influence of her grandfather, who served in World War II. (01:41) Recruited by the Army out of graduate school; getting acclimated to the team concept of the military. (03:10) Following her second husband's lead toward becoming a flight surgeon; going to jump school to reinforce her military credentials. (03:49)
Onset of Desert Shield; how she became involved with a helicopter unit that led to her joining the forces in Kuwait; first impression of Kuwait. (06:49) Her duties in the war; sense of mission. (03:44) Getting captured; first moments of her imprisonment. (13:24)
Lack of medical treatment as a POW, close call with friendly fire; the advantage of self-diagnosis. (03:41) Hope for a quick release; some medical attention; dealing with pain. (03:46) Moved to Baghdad; interrogations (04:24)
Learning Arabic from two female Iraqis; thinking of escape; singing to occupy her mind and to alert others that she was there; release. (07:16)  
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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