Army Col. William E. Powell, 42, a native of Northern Virginia and commanding officer of the Army's elite 2nd Ranger Battalion, died Sept. 21 in the crash of a C130 cargo plane at Indian Springs, Nev.

An Army spokesman said the crash, which is still under investigation, occurred during a joint Army-Air Force exercise.

Col. Powell was a native of Annandale and a graduate of Washington-Lee High School. He received his Army commission following his 1961 graduation from the Virginia Military Institute. He earned a master's degree in international affairs at George Washington University.

During his career, he taught ROTC courses at the College of William & Mary, served two tours in Vietnam, and was an adviser to the Iranian Army. He had been commander of the 75th Infantry's 2nd Ranger Battalion since July 1979.

His decorations included four Bronze Stars, the Combat and Expert infantryman's badges, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Jungle Expert Patch, and the Ranger Tab.

His marriage to Patricia A. Powell ended in divorce.

Col. Powell's survivors include a daughter, Meagan, and two sons, Jonathan and Sean, all of Fort Lewis, Wash.; two other sons, Army Pfc. William E. Jr., who is stationed in West Germany, and Army Pvt. Edward R., of Fort Knox, Ky., and his parents, retired Air Force Col. and Mrs. Edward R. Powell, both of Arlington.