Walter Patrick McHugh, 61, a retired colonel in the Air Force Medical Service Corps and a lobbyist for the American Hospital Association, died Thursday at George Washington University Hospital after a heart attack.

Col. McHugh, who was born in Utah and reared in Chicago, joined the old Army Air Corps in World War II. He became a navigator and was assigned to a B24 bomber. He was shot down over Belgium and later escaped with the help of the underground.

After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree in pharmacy at Idaho State University. He then went into the Air Force Medical Service Corps. He later earned a master's degree in hospital administration at Baylor University. He served at various posts in the United States and also in Germany and Vietnam.

From 1965 until his retirement from the military in 1975, Col. McHugh was assigned to the office of the Air Force surgeon general in Washington. He then joined the American Hospital Association as a lobbyist and continued that work until his death.

Col. McHugh's military decorations included the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal.

He was a resident of Rockville and a member of the Retired Officers Association.

Survivors include his wife, Gloria, of Rockville; two sons, Dr. Terrance, a physician in Columbia, S.C., and Shawn, of Rockville; a daughter, Kathleen Ruth, of Gaithersburg, and six grandchildren.