Retired Air Force Col. John Belechak, 73, a resident of the Washington area since 1966, died of cardiopulmonary arrest Sunday at his home in Harwood, Md.

Col. Belechak was born in Branddock, Pa., and grew up in Campbell, Ohio. He enlisted in the old Army Air Corps in 1925 and retired from the Air Force in 1954 as a full colonel. For the first 13 years of his career, he was an enlisted man. At the same time, he was commissioned in the Reserves. He was assigned to active duty with the rank of captain in 1941.

During World War II, he held a series of staff and base assignments in the United States, mainly with the 3rd Air Force. After the war, he served in France and Germany. At the time of his retirement, he was commander of Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

Col. Belechak lived in Tampa, Fla., until 1966, when he moved to Suitland. He later lived in Oxon Hill, New Carrollton and Largo. He moved to Harwood a few weeks ago.

His first wife, Betty, died in 1961.

Survivors include his wife, Rita, of Harwood; three daughters by his first marriage, Barbara B. Knode of Oxon Hill, Elizabeth C. Hendon of Chevy Chase and Cynthia E. Belechak-Becraft of Phoenix, Ariz.; four brothers, and nine grandchildren.