Morris R. Nelson, 84, a retired Air Force major general who commanded fighter plane formations in the Mediterranean theater during World War II and later was vice commander of the Continental Air Command, died of pneumonia Feb. 9 at Fairfax Hospital. He lived in Falls Church.

Gen. Nelson was a native of Iowa and a 1926 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Before World War II, he became a fighter pilot and held a variety of staff posts.

During the war, he saw service in Italy, commanding P-38 Lightnings of the 305th Fighter Wing and then the 15th Fighter Command. He ended the war with the rank of brigadier general.

After that, he commanded the Panama Air Defense Wing, worked in the Air Force's atomic energy program, and was commanding officer of the Eastern Air Defense Force. He spent his last two years of active duty, before retiring in 1959, as chief of the air section of the Joint Brazil-U.S. Defense Staff.

His decorations included two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Air Medals. He was a member of the Army Navy Country Club, the Army & Navy Club and the Order of the Daedalians.

His wife, Lucile, died last September. His survivors include a son, Morris R. Jr., of Brussels; a daughter, Anne Haymaker of San Antonio, Tex.; two brothers, Rex, of Fort Washington, and Lloyd, of Tucson, Ariz., and seven grandchildren.