Special Operations Commander Removed from Leadership After Allegedly Choking Woman and Child

An airman prepares to load an airdrop bundle on to an MC-130H
An airman assigned to the 19th Special Operations Squadron prepares to load an airdrop bundle on to an MC-130H Combat Talon II during a training mission at Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Edward Coddington)

A commander of an Air Force special operations squadron in Florida has been fired from his role after being arrested on charges related to domestic violence, including choking his wife and a child.

Lt. Col. Brent P. Byng, the commander of the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, was booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail on Sunday evening on charges of abuse of a child, obstructing justice, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of domestic battery by strangulation -- all felony crimes, according to the police report. He was removed from his command the following day.

Byng, 44, entered active duty in 2007. As commander of the 19th Special Operations Squadron, he oversaw the training school for AC-130H, AC-130U and MC-130E aircraft, and he served in that role for roughly a month before being removed from command, according to an Air Force Special Operations Command spokesperson.

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Byng had received decorations such as the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal, according to his record, provided by Air Force Special Operations Command.

"We are aware of the situation regarding the allegations about and the arrest of Lt. Col. Byng, and the Air Force is cooperating fully with the local authorities," Lt. Col. Rebecca Heyse, an AFSOC spokesperson, told Military.com. "The incident is under investigation by local law enforcement."

    Attempts to reach Byng at phone numbers listed in public records for him were unsuccessful. It's not clear whether he has retained an attorney to represent him in the case.

    Byng came back to his home on Sunday from a party at a friend's house and "accused his wife of cheating on him," according to an arrest report provided to Military.com.

    He allegedly asked his wife to see her phone; she refused and walked into the bedroom. Byng "became irate and enraged," followed her into the bedroom and proceeded to grab her by the neck, "squeezing until she could not draw breath," according to the police report.

    Two children were present, and the wife passed her phone to them and told them to run away. Byng allegedly took out a folding pocketknife, opened it and told them to give him the phone, the report detailed.

    Byng followed them outside and is accused of grabbing one of the children on the front porch and picking them up by their neck, according to police. He allegedly released his grip only when he saw a friend pulling into the driveway.

    The wife and children told police they believed "he was attempting to take the phone to prevent them from calling law enforcement for help," the arrest report stated. The children and the wife ran back inside, and the woman climbed the backyard fence to get into a neighbor's house to use their phone.

    The firing of the 19th Special Operations Squadron commander follows the removal of another AFSOC squadron commander last year after that officer was arrested and accused of driving under the influence, hitting a vehicle and leaving the scene in Florida.

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