Retired Navy Rear Adm. Thurston Booth Clark, 72, a pilot and combat veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, died Wednesday at the Naval Air Test Center hospital at Patuxent River.

He had commanded the center from 1957 to 1959, when he became commander of Fleet Air Wings Atlantic/ Command, Fleet Air Wing Five, in Norfolk.

He retired there in 1962 and since then had lived in Saint Mary's City.

Bron in New Rochelle, N.Y., Adm. Clark graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1927. After seven years of duty at sea, he became a naval aviator and served aboard the carrier U.S.S. Lexington until 1939, when he was assigned as a test pilot to the naval aircraft factory in Philadelphia.

Adm. Clark was commanding a patrol squadron in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. His squadron participated in the battles of the Coral Sea, Guadaleanal and Midway, and other campaigns. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 1943, he assisted in commissioning the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River as the station's executive officer. He then returned to the U.S.S. Bougainville, and participated in the Okinawa campaign.

After assignments with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations here and with U.S. Naval forces in Morocco, Adm. Clark commanded the carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge, participating in the Korean conflict. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

He later was chief of staff to the commander, naval air advanced training, and senior aide to the chief of naval operations. In 1956, he was commander of Carrier Division 17 in the Pacific.

In 1967 and 1968, Adm. Clark was a commissioner of the Saint Mary's County, Maryland Metropolitan Commission. He then served as director of the commission for six years. He was a former trustee of the Saint Mary's County Library Board.

He is survived by his wife, Jane W., of the home; two sons, Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Ludlow Clark, of Saint Mary's County, and Marine Corps Lt. William M. H. Clark, of the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Miss., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Naval Academy Athletic Association or the Naval Academy Alumni Association.