Retired Army Col. John W. Ferris, 72, an intelligence officers who was a decorated combat veteran of World War II, died Sunday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had cancer.

Col. Ferris was a native of Illinois and a 1933 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He commanded a field artillery battalion in the Pacific during World War II, and later served with occupation forces in Japan.

He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff School and the Army War College. He was an intelligence officer at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe) in Paris, then served as a Defense Department declassification officer at the Pentagon before retiring from active duty in 1963.

His medals included the Legion of Merit, two Silver Stars with oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal.

After retiring from active duty, Col. Ferris continued to maintain a home in Washington until moving to Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., in 1974.

Survivors include his wife, Alice B., of Indian Harbor Beach; a son, John W. Jr., of Bethesda; two stepsons, Dr. F. Edward Rice of Rochester, Mich., and Nathaniel J. Rice of Delavan, Wis.; two sisters, Mae Cramer of Abingdon, Ill., and Dorothy Davis of Harlingen, Tex., and six grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.