Leslie Nelson Palmer, 47, a Navy commodore who was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and who since January 1984 had been commandant of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, died Dec. 24 at Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis after a heart attack.

Commodore Palmer, who lived in Annapolis, had returned to his home after jogging when he was stricken.

He had been commandant of midshipmen, the academy's second highest post, since January 1984. His other assignments had included tours aboard surface ships in Vietnamese waters during U.S. combat involvement there, and assignments as administrative aide to a secretary of the Navy and chief naval aide to Vice President Spiro Agnew.

His decorations included four Legions of Merit, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal and two awards of the Navy Commendation Medal with combat "v."

Rear Adm. Charles R. Larson, Naval Academy superintendent, said after learning of Commodore Palmer's death, "Commodore Palmer was a close personal friend, a tremendous role model for the midshipmen and a man who gave outstanding service to his country. I know of no one who cared more for the Naval Academy and the midshipmen than he did."

Commodore Palmer was a native of Baltimore. He was a 1959 graduate of the Naval Academy and 1974 graduate of the National War College. While still a midshipman, he served in Lebanese waters during the 1958 crisis in which this country landed Marines and Navy personnel.

He later served aboard mine sweepers, destroyer escorts and destroyers. He was executive officer of a destroyer escort off Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, then reported for duty as chief naval aide to Agnew in 1969. He left that post in 1971 to becoming commanding officer of the fast frigate Elmer Montgomery.

From 1974 to 1977, he was administrative aide to the secretary of the Navy. He then spent two years as surface operations officer of a destroyer-cruiser group at San Diego. He also commanded the guided missile cruiser Fox and served in Washington as director of the surface officer distribution division in the Navy's personnel bureau before becoming commandant. He was promoted to commodore in February 1984.

Survivors include his wife, the former JoAnn V. Quinn, and a son, Mike, both of Annapolis; a daughter, Jodi, of Washington; and his father, Lester H., and a sister, Carol Lovester, both of Baltimore.