James F. Pinkney, 79, a retired senior vice president and chief counsel of the American Trucking Association, died of heart and lung ailments Feb. 27 at Fairfax Hospital.

Mr. Pinkney, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Fayette County, W.Va. He graduated from Davidson College and earned a law degree at the University of Colorado. He moved to Washington in 1935 and went to work at the Interstate Commerce Commission.

During World War II he was an intelligence officer in the Army Air Forces. He served in the China-Burma-India Theater, where he helped debrief fliers after the air raid on Tokyo in April 1942 that was led by James H. Doolittle.

Mr. Pinkney's military decorations included the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

After the war, he taught at Davidson College. He was recalled to active duty as an Air Force officer during the Korean War and served in Japan.

In 1952, Mr. Pinkney returned here and joined the American Trucking Association. He retired in 1972.

He was a past president of the ICC Practitioners, an organization of attorneys, and a member of the Transportation Association of America, the Burning Tree, Belle Haven and Army & Navy clubs and Christ Episcopal Church.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, the former Dorris Vallette Hands, of Alexandria; two sons, James F. Jr., of Springfield and Edgar Hands, of Merritt Island, Fla., and four granddaughters.