Retired Army Col. Kenneth E. Shiflet, 61, a signal Corps communications officer who saw active duty in World War II and the Vietnam war, died of cancer Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The author of several novels and short stories, he was chairman of the English department at Congressional Schools of Virginia at the time of his death. He joined the school as a teacher of English, creative writing and journalism after his military retirement in 1972.

His last assignment was as deputy commander of Strategic Communications in Heidelberg, West Germany, European headquarters of the world-wide military communications networ he helped develop, known as the Strategic Communications Command.

During World War II, Col. Shiflet served in Africa, Sicily and Italy and helped develop mobile communications units used during the invasion of Italy.

In 1968 and 1969, he was on the staff of Commanding Gen. William Westmoreland in Vietnam as chief of staff for civilian affairs.

His peacetime assignments included duty in Ecuador, where he assisted the Ecuadorian Singal Ccorps. in developing a signal school and communication corps, in Germany and Korea.

Col. Shiflet began writing professionally after World War II whenhe won first place in an Army-sponsored short story contest. He sold his first piece to Equire magazine and subsequently published two novels, one of which was made into a movie by MGM. His short stories have appeared in American and European publications.

He was borne in Penn Yan, N.Y., and earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 from Indiana University. In 1966, he earned a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.

His military decorations included the Legion of Merit with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star and the Order of the Calderon from Ecuador.

Col. Shiflet was a member of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, the Retired Officers Association, the Army Navy Country Club and St. Alban's Episcopal Church at Falls Church.

Survivors include his wife, the former Jean Kirk, and a son, Jeffrey W., of the home in Falls Church; a son, Robert K., of Virginia Beach, Va., a daughter, Bonnie-Jeanne Parsons, of Parsons, W. Va, a brother, Ralph Shiflet, and a sister, Vivian Schumaker, both of Terre Haute, Ind., a brother, Frank Shiflet, of Waynesboro, Va, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Kenneth E. Shiflet Creative Writing Scholarship Fund at the Congressional Schools of Virginia, Falls Church.