Retired Navy Vice Adm. Irving T. Duke, 78, a veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, died of cardiac arrest Friday in a Fredericksburg, Va., hospital. He was a resident of King George, Va.

As commanding officer of the destroyer Mayo in the North Atlantic on Sept. 3, 1942, he helped coordinate rescue operations following the sinking of the transport Wakefield. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for the rescue and cited for "heroism and outstanding performance of duty."

The following year he served as operations officer of the joint Army-Navy staff during the planning for the invasion of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands, and then as operations officer on the staff of the assault force. He received the Legion of Merit for his work in these operations.

Following the war, Adm. Duke commanded the heavy cruiser Rochester before taking command of the battleship Missouri in early 1950. He commanded the "Mighty Mo" in combat in Korean waters during the conflict there.

Later assignments included that of director of fleet development and maintenance and as commanding officer of the Navy base in Key West, Fla., before retiring from active duty in 1961.

He then spent 13 years as resident superintendent of the Robert E. Lee Foundation at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County, Va.

Adm. Duke was a native of Richmond. He graduated fourth in his class from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1925. He later graduated from the submarine school at New London, Conn., and took a three-year, postgraduate course in general ordnance at Annapolis.

Survivors include his wife, Helen S. of King George; a daughter, Terrill Walters of Greenville, S.C., and one grandchild.