Idwal H. Edwards, 86, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and a former president of the Retired Officers Association, died of cardio-respiratory failure Wednesday at the Woodbine nursing home in Alexandria.

Gen. Edwards was acting chief of staff for the European theater of operations during a period of World War II. Later in the war, he was assistant chief of staff for operations in the old War Department. He was the deputy chief of staff for personnel and administration of the Air Force when it became a separate service in 1947, retiring in 1953.

Subsequently, he helped draw up a code of conduct for U.S. servicemen who become prisoners of war. This project was undertaken at the direction of President Eisenhower because of the "brain washing" to which American prisoners were subjected during the Korean conflict.

Gen. Edwards, who had lived in Arlington since leaving the service, was born in Freedom, N.Y. He graduated from Bloomsburg State College and was commissioned a lieutenant in the infantry in World War I. He later transferred to the Army Air Service, then a part of the Signal Corps.

He served at various military posts in this country and in the Philippines and elsewhere before World War II.

His military decorations included the Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit and decorations from Britain and France.

In addition to serving as president of the Retired Officers Association, he was president of the Army & Navy Club in Washington.

Survivors include his wife, Katharine of Arlington; one daughter, Katharine Picek of Cockeysville, Md.; three sisters, Ann E. Williams and Mary Edwards, both of Pittsburgh, and Cridwyn E. Berninger of St. Davids, Pa.; a brother, Daniel C. of Silver Spring; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.