Stars and Stripes, the newspaper that originally published the interview with Brian Williams‘ apologizing for falsely saying he was on a helicopter shot down by RPG [Rocket-propelled grenade] fire in Iraq when he wasn’t, published its full audio interview with him Monday.
On further explaining how he confused what helicopter he was on, Williams said:
“Same reasoning in reverse. It was my first engagement of the war and remember I was — we were all I think scared, I have yet to meet the veteran who doesn’t admit to cinching up a little bit when it starts, and it all became a fog of getting down on the ground, what do we do now, taking our direction from the air crews — I’m traveling with a retired four-star general — and then the arrival of the armored ‘mech’ platoon. So, a professional will look at this differently. They do into a kind of hyper-drive. I did what a civilian, an untrained civilian, would do in that instance and it was being scared. I think anyone in my shoes would admit that. It could not have been a more foreign environment. All we knew is we had been fired upon. All we knew was we had set down and then with the arrival of the sandstorm, how do we defend our little desert bivouac area.”
Williams also answered whether he initially said he was on the helicopter shot down days after the attack occured.
No, I think I correctly reported as I did in my blog in ’08 that I was on the aircraft behind the one that was hit. It was not … Because I knew we had all come under fire, I guess I had assumed that all of the airframes took some damage because we all went down. Also, remember, adding to the fear of the moment was the fact that we unhooked, our load master let loose a huge, our cargo, so you go through this over-torque where you rise in the air before you settle, despite what was some dandy piloting by the crews of all three aircraft. It was like landing on the surface of the moon. And I’m going to have a far different recollection than the professionals. These are the guys, and I think maybe you know more than I do — Was it a mixture of Big Windy [Company] out of Germany and Air National Guard from the States? Because that is what I recall.
In another question, Williams answers whether he will address the error on “Nightly News” (the interview took place Wednesday before he went on air and apologized)
I don’t know; I’ll talk to my boss. I am certainly willing. I did not, again … It’s very basic 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 from the other. The fact is, I remember three aircraft going down. I was on one of them. An additional aircraft aside from ours took an RPG through the rear housing above the ramp. And it was our first engagement of the war, a trip that eventually brought me to downtown Baghdad. And this is what I said to you earlier, my war experience in no way matches that of the professionals soldiers we were traveling with, and though we certainly had a variety of experiences from the airport road into Baghdad to Baghdad itself, after Col. Perkins led his thunder run. [Ed.: Col. David Perkins was commander of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade.]