Retired Army Col. Howard J. John, 80, an intelligence officer, military attache, and veteran of World War Ii, died of cancer Tuesday at Bethesda, Naval Hospital.

Col. John was an artillery officer with the 70th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. After the war, he was a professor of military science at the University of Nebraska, then served as military attache in Greece from 1950 to 1952.

His last assignment was as an Army intelligence officer at the Pentagon for two years before retiring in August 1954. After that, he was a researcher on Defense Department projects at American University.

Col. John was born in Louisiana and reared in St. Charles, Mo. He was a 1924 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla. He was an instructor at West Point from 1930 to 1936.

Survivors include his wife, Agnes, of Summer Hills, Md.; a son, Robert, of Marion, Ind.; two daughters, Judith, of Richmond, and Phyllis Olney, St. Petersburg, Fla.; a brother, Robert S., of Deerfield, Ill., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Army Distaff Foundation, 6200 Oregon Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20015.