Retired Army Lt. Col. John Michael McCarthy, 46, who served three tours of duty in Vietnam, was wounded in action three times, and was decorated with the Silver Star and three Bronze Star medals, died of cancer Sunday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The son of a soldier, Col. McCarthy was born at Camp John Hay at Baguio in the Philippines. The family was stationed at several other military posts, but they always considered Washington to be their home.

Col. McCarthy, who was called Mike, graduated from St. Johns College High School in Washington in 1952 and spent a year at Catholic University. hHe then entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1957 with a commission in the infantry.

In the ensuing years, he held a number of staff and command positions with infantry and airborne units. He began his service in Vietnam in the 1960s and completed it in 1971. He commanded a battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., after his last tour in Southeast Asia.

In 1973 he was assigned to the office of the deputy chief of staff of the Army for operations. In 1976, he was transferred to the office of the Secretary of Defense, where he worked on NATO matters.

Col. McCarthy retired in 1978 and joined the Morrison-Knudsen construction company and worked in its offices in Columbia. He was in charge of servicing Morrison-Knudsen employes working on construction projects in Saudi Arabia. He lived in Arlington.

In addition to his Silver and Bronze stars, Col. McCarthy held three Purple Heart Medals and the Meritorious Service Medal.

A brother, Army Capt. Thomas Weller McCarthy, was killed in action in Vietnam in 1964. His mother, the former Charlotte Pickenbrock, died in 1962.

Survivors include his father, retired Army Col. Charles Weller McCarthy, and his stepmother, Helen Sheerin McCarthy of Chevy Chase, a sister, Mrs. William Lee Howard of Potomac and a brother, Army Maj. Charles Peter McCarthy of Fairfax.