Retired Navy lieutenant commander Ernest H. Courtney Jr., 55, a supervisor with the D.C. Department of Labor who was a combat flyer during World War II, died Satutrday at his home in Alexandria after apparently suffering a heart attack.

Mr. Courtney joined the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Service in 1957 as a placement specialist. When the D.C. Department of Labor was established he became supervisor of the department's Job Bank, a position he held at the time of his death.

He was commissioned in the Navy in 1942 and saw duty in the Pacific Theater. He earned a Purple Heart for wounds suffered when the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gambier Bay, was sunk by enemy action in the battle of Leyte Gulf. Mr. Courtney retired from the Navy about 1956.

He was born in Scranton, Pa. He came to Washington with his family in 1928 and was a 1941 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. He also attended George Washington University. He attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria.

Mr. Courtney's wife, Virginia, died in 1976.

Survivors include four children, Ernest H. III, of West Palm Beach, Fla., Christine Rowles, of Newport News, Va., Robert K., of Orlando, Fla. and Carolyn Lee, of Alexandria; his mother, Helen Virginia Courtney, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a sister, Ann Kelsey Somers, of Saint Michaels, Md., and eight grandchildren.