On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted that his story about being on board a helicopter that was hit by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was false.
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams brought up the original story on Friday, in a video it posted on Facebook. In this video, Williams claimed that in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, a helicopter he was traveling in was shot down by an RPG.
Williams said that he and his NBC team were “rescued, surrounded and kept alive” by an armored, mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry. One of the men who Williams attributed with protecting his safety, retired Command Sgt. Major Tim Terpak, was reunited with Williams during a New York Rangers hockey game. Their reunion was featured in the video.
The post received nearly 75,000 likes, over 45,000 shares, and over 2,500 comments. While many of the comments said things such as “made me cry,” and “class act Brian Williams,” there was one particular comment that received a response from Williams.
On Saturday, the flight engineer, Lance Reynolds, left a comment on the video, saying that while he didn’t remember Williams being on the aircraft, he did remember the NBC team leaving the scene and flying to Kuwait to report their “war story” for the Nightly News, all while the crew from the grounded flight was “stuck in Iraq trying to repair the aircraft” and pulling their own Security:
Williams replied to Reynolds’ comment on Wednesday, admitting that he was actually “on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp,” and calling the false report a mistake:
Reynolds told Stars and Stripes that he spoke up in the comments section, in order to preserve his account of the event.
“It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I know how lucky I was to survive it,” said Reynolds. “It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
After originally reporting the story in 2003, Williams mentioned it again in 2008, when he wrote a blog post for NBC News:
“We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47’s,” wrote Williams. “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.”
Williams then referenced the story in 2013, during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. This time, while he changed his story by stating that only two of the four helicopters were hit by ground fire, he reiterated that he was aboard one of the helicopters that was hit:
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