Retired Army Col. John O. (Buck) Weaver, 72, an Episcopal priest who became an Army officer and specialized in psychological warfare in World War II, died Monday of emphysema at a nursing home in Phoenix, Ariz.

A resident of Fairfax for many years, he had moved to Phoenix in 1973 because of ill health.

After retiring from the Army in 1961, Col. Weaver had worked for the Foreign Areas Studies Division, which was affiliated with American University. It handled special studies for the Defense Department.

Born in LaSalle, Ill., Col. Weaver attended Northwestern University, the Nashota House seminary, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, all in Illinois. He was ordained in 1931.

After serving in New York and Chicago for two years, he took leave from the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago to become a radio engineer. However, he remained affiliated with the diocese until his death.

He was a news writer and public affairs director with the Columbia Broadcasting System, then organized a special listening post in Chicago that received and transcribed Axis short-wave propaganda programs from 42 stations in Europe and Asia before this country entered World War II.

In 1942, Col. Weaver became one of the 12 officers and civilian intelligence agents in the Army's fist pyschological warfare unit. It was set up here and trained at Fort Ritchie, Md.

A year later, the team was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services in North Africa to establish an espionage network for short-wave communications work in Sicily and Italy.

Col. Weaver commanded combat propaganda operations with the 5th Army in Italy in 1943-44. In late 1944 and early 1945, he helped reorganize combat propaganda teams with the 1st and 3rd Armies in France.

He had directed the use of conventional artillery to fire propaganda leaflets into German positions, persuading countless numbers of Germans to surrender. He received the Legion of Merit.

Col. Weaver also directed similar operations against the enemy during the Korean conflict, operating from Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, of the home in Phoenix; a daughter, Wendy Pinkey of Annandale; a son, John E., of Lexington Park, Md., and a grandchild.