Thursday, February 5, 2015

Brian Williams: 'Misremembers' Helicopter Hit In Iraq

So, is Brian Williams a liar or senile?

I think he's a liar.

FOR YEARS, Williams has claimed he was aboard a helicopter forced down by RPG fire in Iraq in 2003.

Williams told the story again a few days ago on NBC Nightly News coverage of a tribute that took place at a New York Rangers game.

This time, the shameful telling was the last.

Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes, writes:

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years.

Williams repeated the claim Friday during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

“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.”

...Williams and his camera crew were actually aboard a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters that came under fire, according to crew member interviews.

That Chinook took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the aircraft that carried the journalists.

“No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft,” he said Wednesday.

...Reynolds said Williams and the NBC cameramen arrived in a helicopter 30 to 60 minutes after his damaged Chinook made a rolling landing at an Iraqi airfield and skidded off the runway into the desert.

He said Williams approached and took photos of the damage but Reynolds brushed them off because the crew was assessing damage and he was worried his wife, who was alone in Germany, might see the news report.

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

The NBC crew stayed only for about 10 minutes and then went to see the Army armored units that had been guarding the nearby Forward Operating Base Rams, and came out to provide a security perimeter around the aircraft. Tim Terpak, the command sergeant major who accompanied Williams to the Rangers game, was among those soldiers and the two struck up a friendship.

Miller, Reynolds and Mike O’Keeffe, who was a door gunner on the damaged Chinook, said they all recall NBC reporting that Williams was aboard the aircraft that was attacked, despite it being false. The NBC online archive shows the network broadcast a news story on March 26, 2003, with the headline “Target Iraq: Helicopter NBC’s Brian Williams Was Riding In Comes Under Fire.”

Yeah, what did screw up in Williams' mind?

If I had been on a helicopter that was hit and forced into an emergency landing, I think I'd remember that clearly. I wouldn't be confused as to whether or not I was in that terrifying situation.

Good grief, you don't run around saying you were a passenger and involved in that drama if you weren't.

An honorable person doesn't do that.

Brian Williams did that for YEARS, until crew members demanded that he stop.

Here's Brian Williams' apology, as posted on Stars and Stripes:

"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."
Again, wow.

Brian Williams' credibility has taken a huge hit.

You know if you're on-board a Chinook hit by enemy fire and forced into an emergency landing, rather than following in another helicopter an hour behind those coming under fire.

What the hell?

This is not an understandable mistake.

There was no room for innocent confusion here.

I'm certain I would know if the helicopter I was on in a war zone was hit by the enemy and forced to land. I wouldn't place myself aboard if I actually had been following safely an hour behind the targeted Chinook.

This is worse than embarrassing for Williams. It's a disgrace.

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