On February 27, 1991, Cornum was aboard a Blackhawk searching for a downed F-16 pilot when the helicopter came under enemy fire. Five Soldiers on board were killed, but Cornum and two others survived. Pinned under the wreckage with multiple wounds, she dug her way out. She was captured by Iraqi troops before being repatriated. Cornum remained in the Army and became an advocate for lifting restrictions on what Army jobs women could hold.