I do not personally know NBC reporter Brian Williams, but I did have the good fortune to meet him.
The occasion was at the memorial service for the man who Mr. Williams believed saved his life. Mr. Williams made the effort to be at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, for the funeral service of Gen. Wayne Downing. Gen. Downing, class of 1962, was the four-star general on the helicopter with Mr. Williams when it was forced down during the Iraq war in 2003.
During Gen. Downing’s memorial service, Mr. Williams spoke eloquently about the incident, never stating that their aircraft was the one hit by enemy fire, but recalling the days in the desert, during which Gen. Downing established a defensive zone for them.
It was this incident, recalled at a recent hockey game honoring another U.S. soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Terpak, whose unit was the one that Gen. Downing ordered up for their defense.
The mass media has excoriated Mr. Williams regarding a misstatement – perhaps a slip of memory – regarding exactly which aircraft had been hit by enemy fire. The fact was that the men were stuck in the hostile desert for three days, during which Mr. Williams (a civilian) honestly feared for his life.
Mr. Williams was honoring the soldiers who have so bravely fought for their country and not glorifying his own experience. For his effort to honor others, NBC News has given him a six-month time out. Not fair.