It's a headline-generating mea culpa. Brian Williams today admitted that he was not aboard a helicopter that took fire and was forced down on a March 24, 2003, mission during the invasion of Iraq. The claim has been repeated by the NBC News anchor and the network over the years—most recently this past Friday during a segment on a tribute for a retired soldier at a New York Rangers hockey game. The claim came undone after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit told Stars and Stripes that Williams and his crew were actually aboard a Chinook that lagged about an hour behind the three that came under fire; Williams' chopper eventually landed by a downed helicopter after being forced down by a looming sandstorm.
Willliams had this to say to Stars and Stripes: "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." Politico points out that a crew member of the downed Chinook commented on the hockey game story on Saturday on Facebook, 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." Politico reports Williams has also posted a lengthy apology on Facebook, which reads in part, "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." (Read more Brian Williams stories.)