Brian Williams' break from hosting the 'Nightly News' is going to be much longer than first expected. NBC has suspended the news anchor for six months without pay after admitting last week that his story about being shot at while in a helicopter during a visit to Iraq in 2003 wasn't true.

Williams is suspended for six months without pay for his false helicopter claims

For the duration of his suspension, Williams will be replaced by Lester Holt, the network announced in a memo on Tuesday (Feb 10th). NBC will also be continuing their investigation into his reporting of the 2003 Iraq trip.

"By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News," NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke said in a statement from the network. "His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."

More: Brian Williams Cancels Interview On 'Late Show With David Letterman'

The controversy began earlier last week when Williams retold the false story on a segment of 'Nightly News' that aired on January 30th.

However, only a couple of days later, the 52-year-old confessed he was never aboard the helicopter at the time of the attack after several army veterans involved in his trip came forward to dispute his claims. One of them, Flight engineer Lance Reynolds, wrote on Facebook last weekend: "Sorry dude, I don't remember you being on my aircraft. I do remember you walking up about an hour after we had landed to ask me what had happened."

More: Can Brian Williams' Apology Quell the Outrage over His False Iraq Claims?

"This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position," Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, said in the memo. "In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field."

"Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization," she added. "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."

More: NBC Announces Investigation Into News Anchor Brian Williams' Iraq Error

The email also contained a direct message from NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.

"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," he wrote. "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."