Retired Army Col. Forest S. Rittgers, 77, whose last major assignment was that of U.S. Army liaison officer to the British colony of Hong Kong, died Friday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had emphysema.

Col. Rittgers spent two months serving on the Special Review Board here before his retirement in 1957. Prior to that, he had been on duty in Hong Kong for four years.

A resident of Alexandria since retirement, he worked as an administrative engineer with Melpar here for another seven years before his second retirement.

Col. Rittgers was born in Waldron, Kan. He grew up in Boone, Iowa. He was a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was a letter man in football and received an Army Reserve commission.

He was athletic coach at Centerville, Iowa, high school and then Coe College. He later was elected to the Coe College Athletic Hall of Fame. cHe also earned a master's degree in physical education from Stanford University.

Called to active duty in 1940, Col. Rittgers served stateside during World War II and then was sent to Japan as a military government officer in Kyoto at the end of the war. He was a professor of military science at Syracuse University in New York and studied Chinese at the Army Language School in Monterery, Calif. before going to Hong Kong.

Col. Rittgers was a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria.

He is survived by his wife, the former Gail Courtney of Alexandria; two sons, Army Col. Forest S. Jr., of, Albany, N.Y., and Army Lt. Col. Courtney M., of El Paso, Tex.; a brother, Thomas Park Rittgers of Madison, S.D., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Coe College Scholarship Fund or a church of one's own choice.