Harrison F. Starn Jr., retired Navy commander, died of complications from mesothelioma on Jan. 5 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He was 78.
A resident of Arlington, Cmdr. Starn was born in New Jersey.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, he attended Glassboro College in New Jersey before entering the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1951. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 1962 with a degree in ordnance engineering.
Cmdr. Starn served during the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War. During his career he served aboard a cruiser, destroyers and landing-troop ships. He received several commendations and decorations.
In addition, Cmdr. Starn served as aide to the commandant in the 5th Naval District. His last tour of duty was with the Special Projects Programs of the Naval Sea Systems Command in the District.
Following his retirement from the Navy in 1977, Cmdr. Starn joined Vitro Corp. as a senior engineer working on missile programs. He was an owner of the business American Water Sports of Virginia and was an active supporter of several fire departments, rescue squads and law-enforcement agencies.
Cmdr. Starn was a member of the Military Officers Association of America and American Legion Post 139 of Arlington. His interests included reading, scuba diving, painting, photography, electronics, mechanics, woodworking and helping neighbors with repairs.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Marie, of Arlington; daughter Marie-Anne Lillis and her husband Gerry of Haymarket, Va.; son Harrison III and his wife Melissa of Sterling, Va.; four stepgrandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.