Retired Air Force Col. Charles M. McDermott, 73, an Army Air Corps verteran of World War II who alter served as an Air Force staff officer in this country and in Japan, died Tuesday at Malcolm Grow Hospital at Andrews Air Force Base of complications following surgery for cancer. He lived in Alexandria.

A native of Trenton, N.J., Col. McDermott worked for the John A. Robling and Son wire rope company there. He joined the National Guard in Trenton in 1931. In 1941, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant and from 1942 to 1945, served with the Army Air Corps in England, Africa and Italy.

After receiving his commission as an Air Force colonel in October 1947, he served as a staff officer at air bases in Louisana and Texas and at the Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base in New York.

In 1955 and 1956, he served as base commander at the Shiroi Air Base in Japan.

Col. McDermott's last assignment was a deputy air adjutant general and deputy director of administrative services at Air Force headquarters here from 1956 until his retirment in 1960.

He was a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Col. McDermott was a member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, the Knights of Columbus and the Retired Officers Association.

Survivors include his wife, the former Dorothy Backes of Alexandria; a son, Vincent C., of Falls Church; two brothers, Gregory J., of Trenton, and the Rev. Dunstan V., of Seaside Park, N.J., and two sisters, Kathleen Hilditch of Pennington, N.J., and Delores Toft of Albuquerque, N.M.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society, or to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.