“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.”
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.
The claim rankled Miller as well as soldiers aboard the formation of 159th Aviation Regiment Chinooks that were flying far ahead and did come under attack during the March 24, 2003 mission.
“It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I 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 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.
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.”
O’Keeffe said the incident has bothered him since he and others first saw the original report after 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.”
Next you’re going to tell me there were no WMDs in Iraq.