Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC’s ‘Nightly News’, has been forced to climb down and admit that he was not on board a helicopter that was hit and forced down in Iraq in 2003.

In a statement to Stars And Stripes, Williams recanted the claim that he had made on Friday evening at NBC’s coverage of a public tribute to a retired soldier at an ice hockey game. He said on the broadcast that he and his camera crew, who were embedded in a helicopter unit flying risky missions during the 2003 invasion, were shot down in the desert and "rescued, surrounded and kept alive" by a platoon led by the now-retired soldier.

Brian Williams
NBC anchor Brian Williams took back a claim that he was aboard a downed military chopper in Iraq

It turns out, however, that Williams and his team were in a separate formation of helicopters about an hour behind the one that did get shot down. Stars And Stripes said Williams’ chopper "took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert.”

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He apologised for repeating the false claim, saying “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.”

Flight engineer Lance Reynolds, who was aboard the downed chopper, commented on a Facebook video of the NBC news segment: "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, whose daughter Allison is one of the stars of HBO’s comedy drama ‘Girls’, also responded to those disputing his recollection of the incident, saying on Wednesday evening’s edition of ‘Nightly News’ that he had “made a mistake”, and posted a lengthy apology to Reynolds and the other Facebook commenters.

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