Henry W. Bransom, 78, a retired vice president of the National Savings and Trust Co., where he worked for 42 years, died of respiratory failure Tuesday at the Bel Pre Health Care Center in Silver Spring.

Mr. Bransom was born in Forestville and grew up in Washington. He graduated from Eastern High School and later attended the National University Law School.

He joined National Savings and Trust in 1926. At the time of his retirement, he was a vice president and trust officer. He lived in Falls Church until moving to the Bel Pre Health Care Center last September.

Mr. Bransom served in the Marine Corps in France during World War I. In World War II he went back into the Marine Corps and served with Marine air units in the Pacific. He also served in Korea during the conflict there.

At the time of his retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1961 with the rank of colonel, he was the last active reserve officer in the corps who had served in both world wars and in Korea.

Mr. Bransom was a member of the Washington Golf and Country Club and of the New Jerusalem Masonic Lodge.

His wife, the former Florence Bransom, died last year.

Survivors include a daughter, Martha L. Swartwout of Wheaton, two grandsons and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Florence L. Bransom Memorial Fund, Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 20910.