Charles Day Palmer, 97, a retired Army four-star general who was a heavily decorated combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War, died of cardiac arrest June 7 at his home in Knollwood, the Army retirement home, in the District.

When the United States entered World War II, he was a major stationed in the British West Indies, where he was working on anti-submarine warfare projects and involved with the logistics of this country establishing bases in the British-ruled islands.

In 1942, Gen. Palmer joined the Armored Force in the United States, then in 1944 went to Europe as chief of staff of the elite 2nd Armored ("Hell on Wheels") Division. He held that post as the division participated in the Normandy invasion, the breakout at St. Lo and the battles across France and the low countries to the Siegfreid Line.

In October 1944, he took part in the invasion of southern France as chief of staff of the VI Corps, holding that post as the corps drove through France, across the Rhine and into Germany and Austria. Along the way, he received a battlefield promotion to brigadier general.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Gen. Palmer was stationed in Japan with the 1st Cavalry Division. He served as the division's artillery commander and then as its commander, with a battlefield promotion to major general, while participating in six Korean campaigns.

His later posts included those of commanding general of the Sixth Army in California and deputy commander of American forces in Europe.

After retiring from active duty in 1962, he settled in Washington and spent about seven years as a military consultant with the Research Analysis Corp.

Gen. Palmer's military decorations included three awards of the Distinguished Service Medal and two awards of the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. He also held the Bronze Star and the Air Medal.

Over the years, he had served as a director of both St. Alban's School and the Retired Officers Association. He had been a member of the Chevy Chase and Army & Navy clubs.

Gen. Palmer, who was born in Chicago, graduated from Western High School in Washington. He was a 1924 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Survivors include his wife, the former Eugenia Kingman, whom he married in 1954 and who lives in Washington; a son, Charles III, of Concord, Mass.; and three grandsons.