NBC News President Deborah Turness sent an email to staff Tuesday night announcing the decision to suspend “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay for misrepresenting events on air last month regarding his coverage of the Iraq War in 2003.

“We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as managing editor and anchor of 'NBC Nightly News' for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute anchor the 'NBC Nightly News,'” Turness said in a memo obtained by International Business Times.

While anchoring “NBC Nightly News” Jan. 30, Williams related a false version of events that occurred during his coverage of the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq. The prime time news anchor has frequently told the story of his helicopter getting shot down by rocket-propelled grenade fire. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47,” Williams told David Letterman in 2013. “We figure out how to land safely. … We landed very quickly and hard.”

Williams’ account of the story came under fire last week after crew members who were on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit told Stars and Stripes the veteran NBC News anchor was not in the helicopter. Williams apologized on air last Wednesday, saying he had misremembered the events. “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. … I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft,” he told his “Nightly News” audience.

Turness said the network is currently reviewing the incident and others in which Williams has made comments about his experiences as a journalist.

“It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position. In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field,” Turness wrote in the email Tuesday, adding the decision was a “very hard” one. “As managing editor and anchor of 'Nightly News,' Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.”

"This was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action," Turness added.

In a statement included in Turness' email, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke wrote: “This has been a painful period for all concerned, and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

Here is the full text of the Turness email:

We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as Managing Editor and Anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately. We let Brian know of our decision earlier today. Lester Holt will continue to substitute Anchor the NBC Nightly News.

Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision.

While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.

In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.

As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.

Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization.

As I’m sure you understand, this was a very hard decision. Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action.

This has been a difficult time. But NBC News is bigger than this moment. You work so hard and dedicate yourselves each and every day to the important work of bringing trusted, credible news to our audience. Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can -- and should -- all be proud of. We will get through this together.

Steve Burke asked me to share the following message.

“This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”