John Robert Ahern, 61, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who worked for electronics firms in the Washington area, died of cancer Thursday at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He lived in Annandale.

Col. Ahern, who was born in Stella, Neb., and reared in Pueblo, Colo., went into the Army in 1943. He was commissioned in the artillery and also became a pilot. He served in Europe during World War II.

Subsequent assignments were for service in the Korean conflict and tours of duty at various military posts in the United States. They included the Command and General Staff College and the Pentagon, where he was stationed when he retired in 1966.

Col. Ahern later worked for Melpar and was a consultant and senior marketing representative at the Applied Communications Company in Gaithersburg at the time of his death.

His military decorations include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters.

He was a member of the Retired Officers Association and the Association of Old Crows.

Survivors include his wife, Vee, of Annandale; two sons, Robert B., of Wichita, Kan., and Michael J., of Plantation, Fla.; a daughter, Patricia D., of Annandale, and his mother, Wilma Neely, and a sister, Betty Ahern, both of Colorado Springs.