Air Force Col. William E. Allen, 45, a combat veteran of the Korean conflict and Vietnam war, was killed Tuesday in a traffic accident in Petersburg, Va.

He was en route from the Pentagon to a new assignment at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex., and was driving on 1-95 when his car was hit by a van and then by a semitrailer truck.

Col. Allen had just completed an assignment as chief of the Air Force Electronics Warfare Readiness Group. He was to be vice commander of the Air Force Electronic WarFare Center at Kelly AFB.

Born in Texas, he enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 and was commissioned an officer in 1954 after completing navigation training.

He served with reconnaissance units at Forbes Air Force Base, Kan., and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. He was a former commander of an electronic warfare squadron at Mather Air Force Base, Calif.

Col. Allen flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam and participated in reconnaissance missions in other parts of the world.

He was assigned to the Pentagon in 1973 as a branch chief in the Electronics Warfare Division. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy J., and three children, Anthony, Sheryl and Patrick, all of the home in Springfield, Va., and his mother, Myrtle Allen, of Bellaire, Tex.