This really is turning out to be nothing (kudos to Tapper, Stelter, and CNN for this interview):
Like I said yesterday:
Personally, I’m sympathetic to the notion that he intended no ill will. First, he was doing this to honor a guy who Williams felt defended him for days when Williams was undoubtedly scared. Second, he’s not trying to claim he was some sort of brave soldier, he’s thanking all the guys who defended him. Third, Brian Williams is a civilian with no training whatsoever. He was probably all hopped up on adrenaline just being on the helicopter, let alone in the desert during a war, and then to be told that someone had been hit, etc. I can see how years later it would all run together. Hell, a simple combat landing in a plane would make many civilians think they had been hit by a nuke. I have no practical experience, but I imagine it would be just as dramatic in a helicopter.
From the transcript:
Rich Krell, who was piloting the Chinook that Williams was on, tells a slightly different story than the crew members who spoke to Stars and Stripes.
“Some of things he’s said are not true. But some of the things they’re saying against him are not true either,” said Krell, who spoke exclusively to CNN on Thursday morning.
Krell explained that, contrary to Williams’ comments in the past, there were three helicopters flying in close formation, not four.
“One of the birds broke down, so we were a flight of three,” Krell said. “We were hauling metal bridges.”
Williams was in the back of Krell’s aircraft along with three other NBC staffers. Krell referred to his Chinook as the “second bird” in the formation. The “first bird,” right in front of the “second bird,” was struck by the RPG.
Due to his seat in the back, Williams was most likely unable to witness the RPG attack, Krell said.
All three of the helicopters were hit by small arms fire, Krell said, supporting Williams’ past claims about that.
“The bridge expansions we were hauling took most of the hits,” Krell said.
The three Chinooks took evasive maneuvers. Krell’s helicopter dropped off its payload, then met up with the other two about 45 minutes later. That may explain why the other crew members told Stars and Stripes that Williams arrived in the area later.
Krell said of Williams, “Yeah, he messed up some things and said some things he shouldn’t have. I [first] heard it a few years ago. … Actually one of my flight engineers said, ‘Did you hear him say that? Wasn’t he on our bird?'”
As I noted yesterday, over time, memories fade and get mangled:
Finally, and most importantly, memories fade and get muddled. About 90% of the time when Shawn and I are reminiscing about things we did together while overseas, one of us will say to the other “I remember that happening, but don’t remember if I was there.”
“Were you there for that?”
“I think so. I mean, I remember it happening.”
“Or was that me and Geoff?”
“Again, I don’t remember. I remember it happening, but I don’t remember if I was there or there right after.”
It is what it is. Big fish and all that. That’s how memory works, that’s why eyewitness testimony is a shitty thing to use as the sole basis for a conviction, and that’s why old soldiers talk about the same stories over and over again- to retain the collective memory when the individual memory fails, to have a few laughs, and to remember what it was like being young and dumb.
Here’s CWO4 Krell:
Krell didn’t seem overly bothered by Williams’ revisionist history — he chalked it up to wartime theatrics. “After a while, with combat stories, you just go ‘Whatever,'” he said.
And note, Williams isn’t the only one whose memory faded and is inaccurate. The soldiers who accused Williams of lying also have some facts wrong- They claim he was on a chopper an hour behind them, when he was on the Chinook right behind them. What happened was he was with them when the RPG hit the shithook, but they then flew off to drop off their payload, returned to the downing an hour later, and that is why the soldiers “remember” him not being around during the RPG incident at all.
As far as I am concerned, Williams is owed an apology by some of his harshest critics. Many of whom, I might add, never left their barcalounger and got anywhere near as close to danger as Williams did. Their sole contribution to the war was slapping yellow ribbons on their cars and ranting about the Dixie Chicks.
As someone noted earlier in the other post, the best that can come from this is a heightened awareness of how memory works and how dangerous eye witness testimony can be in the court of law.