Retired Air Force Col. Harold Shapiro, 57, who served with the judge advocate general's office and later was a consultant in forensic medicine to the Air Force surgeon general's office, died of cancer Thursday at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

A native of New York City, Col. Shapiro earned two law degrees from Brooklyn Law School in New York.

During World War II, he served with the Army Air Corps in Europe as a combat crew navigator in B17s.

In 1950, he joined the Air Force judge advocate general's staff and served in new York, Korea, Japan and Spain before transferring to Washington headquaters in 1965.

He then was chief of the contracts branch in the Air Force Civil Engineers for two years before joining the office of the surgeon general of the Air Force, where he specialized in forensic medicine.

Col. Shapiro established a program in forensic medicine for Air Force lawyers and lectured widely on the subjects of medical malpractice, physical disability and other medical-legal problems. He wrote numerous papers on medical and legal subjects.

Following his military retirement in 1972, he established a private law practice in Washington, specializing in military and medical law. He also had represented the Postal Service for several years before retiring a second time two years ago for health reasons.

Col. Shapiro lived in Silver Spring. He was a member of the American and the D.C. Bar Associations and had served on the Court of Claims Committee of the D.C. Bar Association. He also was a member of the Reserve Officers Association and the Disabled American Veterans.

His military decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Survivors include his wife, Hannah, of Silver Spring;, two daughters, Carol, of Washington, and Nancy, of Hyattsville; a son, Stanley, of Wheaton; two brothers, Charlie and Jack, both of Florida; four sisters, Lil Simon, Edith Berg and Yetta Katz, all of Miami, and Tessie Nash, of Coney Island, N.Y., and one granddaughter.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Vincent Lombardi Cancer Research Center at Georgetown University Hospital.