John A. Hager, 76, a retired Air Force colonel and Vietnam War veteran who as a young officer developed a safety-enhancing fuel additive for military aircraft, died Dec. 12 at a hospital in Houston.

His death, from acute leukemia, was confirmed by his wife, Sara Hager. He was a resident of Oak Hill in Fairfax County.

Col. Hager served in the Air Force for 22 years. At 25, he developed an anti-icing substance for jet fuel that was used to help prevent malfunctions at high altitudes, his wife said. In 1961, a group of engineering societies recognized that innovation as an outstanding achievement in the field.

In addition to his service in Vietnam, from 1967 to 1968, Col. Hager worked on military programs involving supersonic reconnaissance. He was stationed at the Pentagon in the office of the defense secretary in the 1970s and was assigned to the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board at the time of his retirement in 1981.

Col. Hager later worked in the private sector for firms including the AAI Corp., Honeywell and Alliant Techsystems. An expert on international trade and offsets, he served on advisory panels to NATO and other defense organizations. At the time of his death, he was a consultant for the Munitions Industrial Base Task Force, a trade association.

John Allen Hager was born in Peytona, W.Va. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from West Virginia University in Morgantown in 1957, a master’s degree in operations research from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., in 1967 and a doctorate in economics and finance from the University of Southern California in 1975.

His military decorations included the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Sara Murro Hager of Oak Hill; a son, Robert Hager of McLean; a sister, Phyllis King of Ripley, W.Va.; a brother, Bradley Hager of Purcellville; and three granddaughters.

— Emily Langer