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Brian Williams Apologizes, Recants Story About Being Shot Down in Iraq

See his mea culpa

Liz Raftery

NBC News anchor Brian Williams issued an apology on Wednesday, recanting a story he recently told about being on a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003.

On Jan. 30, Williams recalled being on a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 that crashed after being struck by an RPG, and publicly thanked the soldier who saved his and others' lives. However, once NBC News posted the clip on Facebook, many military figures who were involved in the incident came forward to accuse Williams of lying and criticized him for his claims.

Watch the segment here:

In 2003, when Williams originally reported the incident, he stated unequivocally that it was the helicopter in front of his own that was shot down. However, when recalling the incident in an interview with David Letterman last year, he stated that he was aboard the downed aircraft.

On Wednesday, Williams publicly apologized during his Nightly News broadcast. "On this broadcast last week in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who protected me and so many others following a ground-fire incident in the desert during the Iraq War, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago," he said in a statement.

Watch his full statement:

Rich Krell, the man who was piloting the Chinook that Williams was on, spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday. "Some of things he's said are not true. But some of the things they're saying against him are not true either," Krell said.

Specifically, Krell said that their helicopter was hit by small-arms fire, but that most of the shots were aimed at the bridge expansions that the Chinook and two others in a formation were hauling. "Yeah, he messed up some things and said some things he shouldn't have. I [first] heard it a few years ago," Krell said. "Actually one of my flight engineers said, 'Did you hear him say that? Wasn't he on our bird?'"

Although Krell also said it was unlikely Williams was able to witness the attack because of where he was seated in the back of the helicopter, Krell did not take offense with his error. "After a while, with combat stories, you just go 'Whatever,'" Krell said.