Breaking: NBC Ignored 2003 Complaint Against Brian Williams from US Pilot in Iraq

williams soldier
Brian Williams with a US soldier (Daily Caller)

The Brian Williams Iraq helicopter lie story has taken a bizarre twist with two helicopter pilots now claiming to have been the one who ferried Williams over Iraq when Williams claimed to have survived an RPG attack that forced his helicopter to land.

Earlier on Thursday, a pilot who spoke to CNN confirmed most of Williams’ story. The pilot, Rich Krell, also spoke to CNN on The Lead with Jake Tapper. He said Williams was on his copter as it took and returned fire. He said Williams would have known they were under attack by the actions of the crew.

Krell’s story differs from Williams’ repeated tellings in a few key areas. Krell says there were only three helicopters in their formation not four as Williams said. Krell said his copter was not hit by an RPG as Williams said. And Krell said he completed his mission contrary to Williams saying they were forced down by enemy fire.

Later Thursday a report came out from another pilot spoke to the Omaha World-Herald. Chris Simeone says he was the one who flew Williams that day and that Williams was lying–as does Don Helus, the pilot of the copter actually hit by the RPG. That pilot says he contacted NBC back in 2003 to dispute Williams but never received a response.

Simeone initially called out Williams on NBC’s Nightly news’ Facebook page on January 31 2015.

“Such a liar! I was the Pilot in Command of the CH-47 flying Brian Williams into Iraq during the invasion. He was on my aircraft and we were NOT shot down. That was a sister ship and a friend of mine. Brian Williams has been knowingly lying since that mission to boost his credentials. As far as the soldier, he deserved to be recognized! They were a help to us. As far as Brian Williams, he’s a fake.”

The reporter for the World-Herald, Steve Liewer, was in southern Iraq at the time of the incident and interviewed crew members on the scene two days later. Williams wasn’t there and the crew members didn’t mention him.

He spoke to one crew who told him their three copter formation had taken small arms fire and that one had been hit by two RPGs—one that hit a cargo container carried underneath and one that failed to detonate.

…”The three Chinooks scattered. One flew back to Kuwait. Helus’ bird and one of the others flew slowly toward Objective Rams, until they could land safely. A Black Hawk came out soon after and escorted them back to Rams, despite the worsening sandstorm.

“That’s where I encountered them. Brian Williams wasn’t there, and they didn’t mention him when I interviewed them.

“Williams had been in another Chinook coming from Camp Udairi. This one belonged to Company B of the 159th Aviation Regiment and was piloted by Chris Simeone. It was part of a four-bird flight of Chinooks.

“They were carrying parts for a bridge that would be constructed across the Euphrates River by elements of the 3rd Infantry Division. These helicopters, too, were headed to Objective Rams.

“Simeone, now retired from the Army and working as a civilian at Fort Rucker, recalled Wednesday he was reluctant to carry Williams and his camera crew.

““I didn’t want them on the aircraft, but (his superiors) said, ‘You’re taking them,’” Simeone said.

“He said the flight was uneventful until they neared Rams and encountered the sandstorm. They never encountered any groundfire or rockets along the way, he said.

“Williams “knows for sure that was not his aircraft that got shot down,” Simeone said. “That was just a lie. He didn’t get hit.”

“They flew along until they spotted two Chinooks on the ground, surrounded by some tanklike Bradley fighting vehicles.

““We thought this would be a safe place to land,” Simeone said…”

Pilot Don Helus wrote to NBC soon after Williams’ initial report in March 2003 in which he claimed to have come under fire:

““But soldiers who were there, including two who now live in southeast Alabama, there say he wasn’t in the group of helicopters that were fired on and, in fact, didn’t arrive on the scene until at least half an hour after the attack.

““That’s why I was in shock that he made that claim,” said Wiregrass resident Don Helus, the pilot who maneuvered the wounded Chinook to a safe landing in the desert after a rocket-propelled grenade damaged it. “They had no damage, and they didn’t take fire.”

“From 2003 on, Williams’ story has irritated crew members of the two units who encountered the correspondent that day. Helus said he saw Williams’ initial March 26, 2003, report soon afterward, when someone emailed him a clip.

“NBC’s Tom Brokaw introduced the report: “Our colleague Brian Williams is back in Kuwait City tonight after a close call in the skies over Iraq.”

“Helus promptly emailed Williams’ producer and asked for a retraction. He said he never heard back.

““My crew was a little upset about that — somebody trying to make a claim to inflate their career,” Helus said.

“His irritation has festered for more than a decade as Williams has not only repeated the story but has exaggerated it.”

There is a very serious question as to who is lying and who is telling the truth. Liewer sums up the view of troopers he knows was there:

…” The crew members can’t explain the differences between their account and Williams’. But they agree on one thing: He wasn’t in the group of helicopters that came under fire.”

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