Retired Army Col. Virgil Ney, 74, a military historian and teacher who had seen combat in World War II and the Korean conflict, died Monday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had a heart ailment.

Sent to the Pacific in the latter part of World War II as a battalion commander in the Philippine, Col. Ney remained there after the war as a historian on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He also was on MacArthur's staff in Japan.

In 1947, Col. Ney was sent to Nanking, China, to establish a school for combat historians for the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek. During the Korean conflict, he organized a psychological warfare school for the Korean army and participated in anti-guerrilla operations in Cholia Namdo province.

After his return from Korea, he wrote a book, "Notes on Guerrilla Warfare," in which he stressed that guerrilla warfare was replacing conventional warfare and that new strategies must be developed by military leaders.

Col. Ney graduated from George Washington University in 1953. He retired from military service in 1957 after a tour of duty in the office of reserve training at Fort Myer.

He then was a planning specialist with the Civil Defense office in Washington, taught at American University, was assistant director in the Army War College program at George Washington University and was with the Special Warfare school at Fort Belvoir.

During this period, he also earned a master's degree and doctorate from Georgetown University. He was a senior military analyst and historian with Technical Operations Inc. in 1964-72.

Col. Ney was born in Omaha, and attended Omaha University before entering the Army in 1926. His decorations during his 31-year career included the Legion of Merit.

He was a fellow of the Company of Military Historians, a member of the Council on Abandoned Military Posts and the D.C. Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, and a 32nd degree Mason.

He had been a contributing editor to National Defense Magazine. His most recent book was "Fort on the Prairies," a story of garrison life in the frontier days at Fort Atkinson, Iowa.

He is survived by his wife, Electa Davis Ney, of the home in Silver Spring, and a sister, Mrs. Michael Riaff, of St. Louis. CAPTION: Picture, VIRGIL NEY