James Nugent, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served 31 years in the military, died Feb. 18 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. He was 79.

He had respiratory failure and lung cancer, said his son Thomas Nugent.

Col. Nugent, a resident of Fort Washington, Md., enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1955 and entered active duty three years later.

He served in the Vietnam War and was stationed overseas in Greenland, Thailand, Turkey, Japan and Korea. He worked for the Army General Staff at the Pentagon in the early 1970s and his last active-duty assignment was as an operations, plans, training and force development officer at the Army’s Concept Analysis Agency in Bethesda.

His military decorations included the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four awards of the Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

James Nugent was born in Jersey City and was a 1957 geology graduate of Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. He received a master’s degree in military art and science from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1970 and settled in the Washington area in 1971.

He was a past scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America and a youth soccer coach.

His wife of 45 years, Vera Vachajitpan Nugent, died in 2013. Survivors include two sons, Army Col. James Nugent Jr. of Austin and Thomas Nugent of Snoqualmie, Wash.; a sister; and two granddaughters.

— Megan McDonough