John Forrester, 64, a retired Air Force colonel and decorated Vietnam War veteran, died of cancer Oct. 18 at his home in Burke.

As a navigator with the "Wild Weasel" Tactical Fighter Squadron, he served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He flew in more than 140 combat missions and took part in the daring but unsuccessful attempt to free U.S. prisoners of war from the Son Tay camp outside Hanoi.

Later assignments included base commander of Misawa Air Base in Japan, and unofficially, goodwill ambassador between the United States and the local population in northern Japan. In the 1980s, he served as the defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm and as a U.S. military representative in Belgium.

Col. Forrester, a 1955 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served 33 years in the Air Force before retiring from active duty in 1989 while on assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

A Burke resident off and on for the past 20 years, he was born in New York and raised partially in England.

During the early years of his military career, he was an electronic warfare officer with the 449th Strategic Bomb Wing, a member of a B-52 crew and an instructor and tactical officer at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

His military honors included the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Meritorious Service Award. He received a master's degree in engineering management from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and studied at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala.

In retirement, he worked for defense contractor Trident Inc. as a program manager.

His first wife, Lillian Patricia Mikulich, died in 1967.

Survivors include his wife of 31 years, Mirna E. Forrester of Burke; five children from his first marriage, John T. Forrester of McLean, Mary Forrester Brendes of Sterling, Anne Forrester Muska of Peachtree City, Ga., Rose Forrester Burwell of Williamsburg and Patricia Forrester Walsh of London; a son from his second marriage, Daniel J. Forrester of Burke; two sisters; and seven grandchildren.