KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro man says he's incensed by Brian Williams’ story where the NBC anchor claimed to have been on board a helicopter in Iraq that was forced down by small fire 12 years ago, and he’s been upset from day one. Williams went public this week, admitting his original story was told in error, and he blamed a foggy memory for the mistake.
Army pilot Joe Summerlin is upset because he says he was on board the Chinook helicopter that took fire that day.
Summerlin says he and some of his crew tried to alert the media back in 2003 that Williams’ story was not true, but they were still in Kuwait, fighting the war and none of the news outlets they contacted called back.
It wasn't until Williams recounted the story again on the NBC Nightly News Wednesday that one of the crew members called him out on Facebook, a reporter from the Stars and Stripes picked it up and the story exploded.
“I actually busted out laughing. I was like, ‘Oh my God! It's finally going to happen, finally this guy is going to be shown for who he really is,’" Summerlin said.
Summerlin says Williams’ story about being on a helicopter that was forced to land in the desert, behind enemy lines after getting hit by a rocket propelled grenade, has become more grand over the years. At first, Summerlin says Williams tweaked his story, but it was Williams’ appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2013 that really made him mad.
Summerlin says he was navigating the Chinook the day 12 years ago, and Williams’ helicopter was nowhere near them when they got shot down. He says Williams got there 30 to 60 minutes after they crash landed.
"Out comes a civilian and the first thing he does is looks around and he takes out a comb and he combs his hair, and I thought well that's odd, who is this person worried about his appearance in the desert?” Summerlin said.
Summerlin says Williams never talked to anyone on his crew, but Summerlin’s crew did show off their battle wounds to the crew of the arriving Chinook. After that, Williams and his crew took off.
FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien asked why Summerlin is speaking out.
"Well, because this is our story, this isn't his story. He's been telling it for years and finally somebody's listening to some of us,” he replied. “It harms his credibility. That's why I haven't watched him in 12 years."
"I don't want him to say, “I’m sorry,” to me and I don't want to say anything to him. I just want him to go away. The only thing I want is for everyone to know that he is lying about the whole thing and he has and he's not a war hero."
The pilot flying the Chinook that Williams was on had come to the anchor’s defense on a CNN show, saying that they did take fire, but now he says he's having questions about his memory as well.