Howard Harrison Cooksey, 78, a retired Army lieutenant general and decorated combat veteran of three wars, died of vascular disease Dec. 22 at The Fairfax retirement community in Fort Belvoir.

Gen. Cooksey served in the Army for 35 years before retiring in 1978 as deputy chief of staff for research, development and acquisition at the Pentagon.

After graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1943, he entered the Army and became an infantry officer with the 158th Regimental Combat Team in the Philippines during World War II. In the Korean War, he was an infantry officer with the 7th Infantry Division.

He had been a commanding officer at Fort Dix, N.J., when in June 1968 he was assigned to the 23rd Infantry (Americal) Division, which months earlier was responsible for the Vietnam War's most infamous massacre of Vietnamese women and children.

Between combat assignments, he held a number of overseas posts. He was a member of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's honor guard in the Japanese occupation and a member of the Second Battalion Group, 6th Infantry Division, in Berlin in 1961.

Over the years, his decorations included the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Purple Heart.

Gen. Cooksey was born in Brentsville, Va., and raised in Manassas, where he graduated from Osbourn High School. He received a master's degree in foreign affairs from George Washington University in 1964.

After his military retirement in 1978, he headed his own military consulting firm in Alexandria and served as a senior associate with the Association of the U.S. Army. He also operated two farms near Independence, Va., and served on the Clarke County Planning Commission for four years.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Althea Hoof of Fort Belvoir; two children, Paul Hooff Cooksey of Alexandria and Allison Cooksey Hyland of Annapolis; a sister, Carolyn Cooksey Baker of Falls Church; and six grandchildren.