Thursday, February 5, 2015

NBC's Brian Williams caught in Lie and Apologizes

I find that I'm becoming more and more forgetful as to how some things happened exactly the way they did. And yes, especially as I get older. 

But frankly, there are things that I remember as if they took place yesterday - even though they happened 40 years ago. 

Whether it was carrying a little girl off a helicopter as a young Marine during the evacuations of Saigon in 1975, or seeing a woman shot in the head by local Filipino Constabulary in the streets of Olongapo in the middle of the night,. I find truly life-changing events very memorable.

I remember being little too drunk and found myself in town after the curfew. It was a time when the local Constabulary ruled with an iron fist. 

I saw the deuce-and-a-half  rumble down from the end of the long main street. The police were shaking doors to make sure all was locked up during the Martial Law curfew that took place at midnight. 

Prior to midnight the streets were busy with sailors and Marines heading back to the base there at Subic Bay, or heading to some young gals home for the night. 

Since I had left a little too late to get back to the base, the gate across to Shit River bridge had just closed and the streets were deserted. When I saw the Constabulary start coming down the street and that machinegun on the top of that truck, I decided to try a door or two to get off the street. 

The Constabulary had a reputation of shooting first and asking questions later -- if they felt like it at all. 

As I was trying to force a door open, it suddenly opened and an old man pulled me inside. He walked me up stairs and took me to a room to stay in for the night. The experienced had sobered me up pretty good so I stayed there. I found a chair and closed my eyes for a few hours of sleep until curfew was lifted.  

A few hours later, I heard some screaming and shouting outside in the street. When I opened the louvered shutters to see what was going on. A few Constabulary was questioning a woman behind a truck. She was shouting at them shaking her head no, and they were shouting at her when all of a sudden an officer reaches over to her and shoots her in the head. 

She fell to the ground, but soon they picked her up and placed her in the back of the truck and drove off. Yes, I remember that well.    

A few months later, I remember having an M16 pointing in my face while I knelt with my hands behind my head that day in the Philippines when the local Constabulary, yes the Police, stopped the civilian bus that I was on. It is very memorable. 

I can recall the Constabulary pulling everyone including the women and crying children off the Liberty Bus. 

I can remember the pushing and shoving, the search, them robbing me of the few dollars I had on me. Them shouting in Tagalog at us men to get down on our knees, the women and children were moved away to the other side of the bus. 

I remember feeling like a like POW, Prisoner of War, as they ordered us down on our knees and us to clasp our hands behind our heads.  

I remember getting kicked in the back. And when I didn't go down, one Constabulary tapped the barrel of his rifle in the back of my head. I still believe he was trying to push me forward but I wouldn't go face first into the mud.  

I remember one Constabulary tapping my forehead with the muzzle of his rifle. I remember thinking that I wanted to get in just one punch, just one hit. I remember thinking that I could take him out before they killed me. I figured killing one of them before they killed me would make it alright.

I remember them arguing behind me, always they spoke Tagalog. Then they beat the driver, and then they pulled another man up off his knees and into the bush behind us. After a lot of shouting, I remember closing my eyes when I heard two shots from behind me. 

I remember hearing the police walking back without him. I remember them shouting at us to go and pointed down the road. I remember how we all started walking to the nearest town and simply left the bus to the police to sack if they wanted to. Yes, that was 1975.    

Another life-changing event was when a black thug pointed a pistol at me, and jerking on the empty pistol's trigger a few times before realizing it was empty. 

When I heard the shots, I was sitting in my Security vehicle. Yes, he wanted to shot me after he just shot his friend in the head 5 times. 

That was in Oakland, California, around 2am right outside a Stop 'N Go store on 23rd and Foothill back in 1980. It was after that when I decided to carry a gun -- legal or not. 

Yes, that was a lot of years ago. All three were life-changing events. And yes, I remember it well probably because they were so stressful.

Thankfully, most people have very few truly life-changing events. So yes, granted while we sometimes we wish we didn't remember them so vividly, I believe we remember more than we want to sometimes.. 
To me, memories are lessons in life coming back to remind us of things we've learned. And frankly, whether it's a memory dealing with unfaithfulness and betrayal in a relationship, or whether it's right and wrong by those in position of authority, and whether I like it or not, I do remember the big events that had a great deal of impact on me. 

Maybe that's why I'm surprised when someone says they don't remember or "misremember" the circumstances of being shot at or not? After all, it is something that is pretty hard to forget.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted that he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It's something that some call a "lie" that he has repeated for years.

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.”

Contrary to Williams' past claims that he was traveling in a Chinook helicopter that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire on March 24, 2003, he arrived at the scene in a separate helicopter about an hour later. 

Fact is that he was never in any danger, and the Chinook that took fire, one of three in its formation, was able to make an emergency landing with no casualties.

"I want to apologize," Williams said on Wednesday night's broadcast of NBC Nightly News. "I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft."

Williams, 55, most recently told the story during NBC coverage of a tribute to a retired command sergeant major at a New York Rangers hockey game.

“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.”

The Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that covers the United States Armed Forces, first reported the admission.

Williams disputed claims to the newspaper that his original report was inaccurate, saying that he originally reported that he was in another helicopter but that he had confused the events.

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” Williams told the newspaper. “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

In a 2008 blog post, Williams said he was flying in a Chinook helicopter as part of a four-chopper formation, and all four took fire.

But Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the aircraft that carried the journalists, told Stars and Stripes that their helicopter "never came under direct enemy fire."

Several service members said they recall NBC reporting Williams was aboard the aircraft that was attacked, despite the claim being false.

Mike O’Keeffe, who was a door gunner on the damaged Chinook, told The Stars and Stripes the incident has bothered him since he and others first saw the original report.

“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.”
Williams disputed Wednesday claims the initial reports were inaccurate, saying he originally reported he was in another helicopter but later confused the events. 

In a 2008 NBC blog post with his byline, he wrote that the “Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor.”

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.”

So, would I forget if I were in a helicopter that was taking fire? No, I would not. 

Would I "misremember" the circumstances of what took place when I was going through it? No. 

Would I always remember how it took place? You bet I would. 

Brian Williams can't remember a life threatening experience from 12 years ago, and I can recall a few from almost 40 years ago? Amazing!

Like it or not, most of us will remember when our lives are on the line. Most of us will not forget the truth of what took place. And if it did happen, most of us wouldn't "misremember" it because we would have lived it instead of lie about it.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. I don't like it when people commit stolen valor. Seeing as how I have two family members who were military veterans, this hits close to home. Brian Williams SHOULD be sorry. For example, after the Civil War, you had guys claiming to have fought for both the North and the South just so they could say they were there. But how much you wanna bet that half of them were lying? That's like somebody in the Old West claiming to be a gunfighter and then you find out they only killed one man. So whenever I think of stolen valor, I always think of the men and women in actual uniform and how they would feel if someone came along and actually claimed to be a veteran. If that veteran says, "I don't remember you being there", that's when you know they're onto you. And chances are, you weren't there. So the next time you wanna claim stolen valor, remember. For every real veteran, there is a fake. And that fake is you. Best wishes, Benny. And nice article, Tom.


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