Brian Williams' Helicopter Pilot Says Chopper Came Under Fire in Iraq
Rich Krell says most of the 'Nightly News' anchor's account is accurate.
The plot is thickening when it comes to Brian Williams' apology stemming from his account of a 2003 helicopter flight in Iraq.
One day after Williams apologized for having falsely represented over the years that his chopper came under RPG fire, the helicopter's pilot, Rich Krell, said the aircraft did come under fire — just not under RPG fire.
Appearing on CNN's The Lead, Krell told Jake Tapper the helicopter did come under fire, but that it was not hit by an RPG as Williams had said. He said the rest of Williams' account was accurate.
During the incident, Williams was in the second helicopter out of a group of three, with the lead chopper taking RPG fire, according to Krell.
"We took small arms fire," Krell said. "One RPG was fired. It struck the lead aircraft."
He went on to say the bullets "struck the belly" of the craft, "but it didn't cause any major damage." Krell said other than minor details, he didn't take issue with Williams account.
"We were all scared, and that's the truth," said Krell.
On Jan. 30, Williams appeared on a video on NBC Nightly News' Facebook page, where he repeated parts of a story he had been telling for years, referencing "a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq, when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG."
A user going by the name Lance Reynolds claimed to have been serving in Iraq during the incident, and said he did not remember Williams being on his craft. Williams apologized via his verified Twitter account, and later on Nightly News.
"Because I have no desire to fictionalize my experience (we all saw it happened the first time) and no need to dramatize events as they actually happened, I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize," Williams wrote on Twitter.
Over the years, Williams told the story of facing RPG fire multiple times, including during a 2013 Late Show appearance, which can be viewed below.