Robert E. Jarmon, 72, a retired Air Force colonel who had served in the old Air Force Research and Development Command and participated in nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific, died Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had cancer.

Col. Jarmon, who lived in Alexandria, had made his home in the area since 1951 when he was first assigned to the Research and Development Command at the Pentagon. His last Air Force post was a two-year assignment as materiel director of the 12th Air Force at Ramstein Air Force Base in West Germany. He retired in 1957.

He worked for North American Aviation in Washington before retiring a second time about 1968.

Col. Jarmon was a native of Echo, Ore., and a 1931 graduate of Oregon State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He joined the Army Air Corps later that year. He also was a graduate of the Air War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Before World War II, he flew air mail flights. During the war, he was chief of an armaments laboratory at Wright-Patterson field in Dayton, Ohio.

Survivors include his wife, Kathryn H., and a daughter, Mary J. Fairbanks, both of Alexandria; two sons, Richard T., of Norfolk, and Roger M., of Peoria, Ill.; two brothers, six sisters, and five grandchildren.