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After 12 years, Brian Williams is coming clean, admitting the helicopter he traveled in during NBC’s coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion never once came under fire, despite Williams’ story to the contrary.
On Jan. 30, NBC Nightly News posted a video of Williams to Facebook, in which Williams recounts the false story during a news segment. Williams references “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 by the name of Lance Reynolds, who claimed to have been serving in Iraq during the incident in question, subsequently commented on the video, writing, “Sorry dude, I don’t remember you being on my aircraft.”
Reynolds added, “I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened. Then I remember you guys taking back off in a different flight of Chinooks from another unit and heading to Kuwait to report your ‘war story’ to the Nightly News.”
Willams responded to the comment via his verified account, writing, “To Joseph, Lance, Jonathan, Pate, Michael and all those who have posted: You are absolutely right and I was wrong.
“In fact, I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.
“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.
“I certainly remember the armored mech platoon, meeting Capt. Eric Nye and of course Tim Terpak. Shortly after they arrived, so did the Orange Crush sandstorm, making virtually all outdoor functions impossible. I honestly don’t remember which of the three choppers Gen. Downing and I slept in, but we spent two nights on the stowable web bench seats in one of the three birds.
“Later in the invasion when Gen. Downing and I reached Baghdad, I remember searching the parade grounds for Tim’s Bradley to no avail. My attempt to pay tribute to CSM Terpak was to honor his 23+ years in service to our nation, and it had been 12 years since I saw him.
“The ultimate irony is: In writing up the synopsis of the 2 nights and 3 days I spent with him in the desert, I managed to switch aircraft. Nobody’s trying to steal anyone’s valor. Quite the contrary: I was and remain a civilian journalist covering the stories of those who volunteered for duty. This was simply an attempt to thank Tim, our military and Veterans everywhere — those who have served while I did not.”
Williams also apologized live on Wednesday’s Nightly News. Video below. (YouTube link here)
Brian Williams: ‘In an Effort to Honor and Thank a Veteran, I Made a Mistake’ http://t.co/UVXXYg2HPJ
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) February 5, 2015
As pointed out by the Washington Post, Williams recounted the false story in vivid detail to David Letterman in 2013, telling the late-night host, “We were in some helicopters. What we didn’t know was, we were north of the invasion. We were the northernmost Americans in Iraq. We were going to drop some bridge portions across the Euphrates so the Third Infantry could cross on them. Two of the four helicopters were hit, by ground fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47.”
Fox News also points out that Williams penned an account of the false story on the Nightly News blog back in 2008: “We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47’s. The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”
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