NBC News anchor Brian Williams admitted on Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter that was forced down due to rocket fire in 2003 in Iraq, a story he told numerous times, Stars and Stripes reported.
Crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook told Stars and Stripes that Williams was not near the helicopter when it went down, reportedly prompting the anchor to recant his story.
“I was wrong,” Williams said, according to the newspaper.
“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” he added. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”
The crew members said Williams was on a different helicopter that arrived after the other aircraft made an emergency landing due to enemy fire.
In a Facebook comment admitting he was wrong, Williams apologized profusely for his mistake.
“I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake,” he wrote. “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.”
After NBC News posted a video of Williams telling the story about taking enemy fire on its Facebook page on Friday, Lance Reynolds said in a comment that he did not remember Williams’ presence on the helicopter.
Additional Facebook commenters chimed in after Reynolds disputed Williams’ story.
Williams then responded to Reynolds and others in a comment admitting that he was wrong:
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.
Watch this video published on Monday of Williams telling the story in question:
This post has been updated.