Retired Navy Capt. George F. Rodgers, 59, a decorated World War II combat pilot who later served as a public relations officer and editor in the Navy, died Sunday at DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir. He had a heart ailment.
Capt. Rodgers, who was born in Joliet, Ill., enlisted in the Naval aviation cadet program in 1941 and was assigned to a fighter squadron. During World War II, he flew three combat tours in the Pacific Theater, seeing action at Marcus and Wake Islands, Okinawa, in the Gilbert and Marshall Island campaigns and in attacks on Japan.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
After the war, Capt. Rodgers, who lived in Alexandria, served several tours in this country. During the Korean conflict, he was officer-in-charge of Tactical Air Control Squadron detachments in Korea and Indochina.
From 1955 until his retirement in 1972, he served as a speech writer to the Chief of Naval Operations and as a public relations officer for Naval Operations and the 6th Fleet, as editor and publisher of Naval Aviation News, and as a media liaison officer for Naval Aviation. He was a special assistant to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet when he retired.
After retiring, he was recalled to active duty as a special assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, a position he held until retiring a second time in 1973 for reasons of health.
Survivors include his wife, the former Lorraine Helen Zillner, a daughter, Patricia A., and two sons, Gregory R., and George a., all of Alexandria; another daughter, Roberta T., of Brookfield, Vt., and a sister, Helen Holmes of Rockford, Ill.