NBC Nightly News Brian Williams Recants Iraq Story Amid Protest

NBC Nightly News Brian Williams Recants Iraq Story Amid Protest

Remember the touching tribute last Friday on NBC Nightly News when Brian Williams was reunited with one of the soldiers who provided ground cover after the helicopter Williams and other NBC employees were being transported in through Iraq in 2003 was shot down by an RPG? Williams and the now retired Command Sgt. Major Tim Terpak attended a New York Rangers – Montreal Canadiens game together last week at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers organization planned a special tribute to him, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd and the players from both teams.

Brian Williams and Command Sgt. Major Tim Terpak
Brian Williams and Command Sgt. Major Tim Terpak

“The story actually started with 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,” Williams said on the broadcast. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”

However, in an interview with Stars and Stripes, Williams acknowledged that he “misremembered the events and was sorry”.

Williams’ admission came after members of the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was shot by an RPG came forward to tell the public that Williams and his NBC News crew were no where near the wreck as it occurred, and definitely were not on any helicopter that was shot down. The soldiers said that Williams and his crew were on a helicopter that came along about an hour behind the damaged Chinook and the two others flying with it.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, the flight engineer on the aircraft carrying the journalists, the Chinook they were traveling in never took any fire, was never damaged, and only later landed beside the damaged helicopter because of an impending sand storm.

On Wednesday, Williams had this to say in an interview with Stars and Stripes:

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams said. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

Confusion. Sure. Because we alllllll have managed to confuse such a horrific event that happened to someone else with something that happened to us.

Needless to say, this lie upset the soldiers of the 159th Aviation Regiment. The Chinook Williams claimed he was on was hit by two rocked propelled grenades and small arms fire. One of the grenades did not detonate, but passed through the airframe and the rotor blades.

“It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I’ve know how lucky I was to survive it,” said Lance Reynolds, who was the flight engineer. “It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”

Reynolds confirmed that the helicopter carrying Williams landed about 30-60 minutes later, and he saw Williams taking photos of the wreckage, but he almost completely ignored the journalists because he and the other crew members were trying to assess damage. He also shared that he was concerned for his wife in Germany.

“I wanted to tell her myself everything was all right before she got news of this happening,” Reynolds said.

The news crew stayed for about 10 minutes, then went with the Army armored units that had come from Forward Operating Base Rams to provide a security perimeter for the aircrafts. This was where Williams met Terpak and struck up a friendship.

Miller, Reynolds, and Mike O’Keeffe, the door gunner on the damaged Chinook, all recall NBC reporting the aircraft Williams was riding in being shot down despite the claim being false. O’Keeffe said the report had bothered him since he had first heard it upon returning to Kuwait.

“Over the years it faded,” he said, “and then to see it last week it was — I can’t believe he is still telling this false narrative.”

Coming from a man who is proud of his daughter’s part in the disgusting analingus on HBO’s Girls, I can’t be surprised that he would lie about this.

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