Courage Under Fire stars Denzel Washington, who plays a very convincing LTC Nathaniel Sterling, a tank commander in the Gulf War; and Meg Ryan as a CPT Karen Walden, a pilot killed in action during the Gulf War who is considered for recommendation for the Medal of Honor, the first woman to be considered for this award.
Meg Ryan appears in the movie only in several of the numerous flashbacks. The movie revolves around two storylines: the facts behind the death of Meg Ryan's character, CPT Walden, and the life of LTC Sterling who has the unfortunate assignment to uncover what really happened when CPT Walden was killed.
Throughout the movie, LTC Sterling must face his own demons, including a drinking problem, difficulties with his wife, and a Washington reporter hounding him for information on the story he's researching.
Lou Diamond Phillips and Matt Damon also appear in the movie, both of whom portray soldiers who witnessed the events that led to CPT Walden's death.