Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Arthur J. Pierce, 71, a World War II combat pilot who was cited for his organization of the Air Corps' European Ferry and Transportation Service in Britain in 1942, died Nov. 28 in a hospital in Lubbock, Tex., of complications following heart surgery.

A resident of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., since his military retirement in 1966, he was being treated in Texas for a circulatory ailment.

Gen. Pierce, a native of Greenfield, Mass., joined the Army in 1931 and became a pilot. In 1942, he organized the European Ferry and Transport Service and later commanded it.For this he received the Legion of Merit. He subsequently commanded a heavy bomber group and flew 15 combat missions against Berlin and other targets.

After the war, he came to the Washington area as chief of staff of the North American Wing of the Air Transport Service at Andrews AFB. He later served as a member of the joint strategic planning group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was vice commander of the 13th Air Force at Clark AFB in the Philippines when he retired.

Besides the Legion of Merit, Gen. Pierce's decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan.

Survivors include his wife, the former Lula Cone, of Santa Rosa Beach; three sons, Arthur, of San Francisco, James of Langley, Va., and Richard, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; a sister, Alice, of Greenfield, and two brothers, Russell, of Holliston, Mass., and Robert, of Montague, Mass.