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Beloved rapper, celebrity dad and NBC News star anchor Brian Williams admitted today that a story he told last week about being on a helicopter that was forced to land after being hit by enemy fire over Iraq in 2003 was not true.
In an interview with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, Williams said, "I would not have chosen to make this mistake. I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another."
The newspaper reports that crew members who were on the Chinook helicopter that was hit by an RPG said Williams was nowhere near that aircraft or two others that took fire that day, but instead arrived an hour later in a different helicopter.
"No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft," Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, a flight engineer on the chopper carrying Williams, told the paper.
Williams told the story on the Jan. 30 broadcast of NBC Nightly News, saying "the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG. Our traveling NBC news team was rescued and kept alive by an Armored Mechanized Platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry."
NBC Nightly News posted the video to its Facebook page the following day, and a Facebook user named Lance Reynolds called Williams out in the comments writing, "Sorry dude, I don't remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened."
Williams replied to that comment earlier today with an apology:
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.
According to Stars and Stripes, Williams wrote in a blog post in 2007 that "some men on the ground fired an RPG through the tail rotor of the chopper flying in front of ours. There was small arms fire. … All four choppers dropped their heavy loads and landed quickly and hard on the desert floor."