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Antarctic explorer and Navy veteran turns 102 years old

Bob Johnson has explored parts of the planet that few people have. The 102-year-old is also the last surviving member of Admiral Byrd's expedition to Antarctica.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — It was a time to celebrate at Beach Diner in Atlantic Beach Thursday as friends and family gathered to celebrate Navy veteran Bob Johnson's 102nd birthday.

"I sure didn't expect all this, it's really something," says Johnson.

Bob Johnson turned 102, but his age is only the beginning of his incredible accomplishments.

"I had an exciting Navy career," says Johnson, "I really did."

Johnson joined the Navy in 1937 and is the last surviving member of Admiral Byrd's expeditions to the Antarctic. The crew explored and mapped more than 500,000 square miles of Antarctica that had never been seen before.

"On Operation High Jump in 1946-47 three of us made a parachute jump," says Johnson. "You just take it as it comes, part of your duty I guess."

Johnson may downplay his trips to the end of the Earth, but the city of Atlantic Beach still made a proclamation in his honor.

Pictures of his explorations live on. Johnson has looked after a stuffed "Penguin Polar Pete" for nearly 80 years.  

Also lasting the test of time is an American flag that flew in Antarctica when Johnson served. It has 48 stars, which was accurate for the time.

With his wife Mildred by his side, active duty members of the Navy came to show their respect for a man who blazed a trail nearly 80 years ago.  

Just don't expect Johnson to make many southern expeditions any time soon.

"One time a person asked 'would you like to go back to the Antarctic'," says Johnson. "I told him why do you think I'm in Florida where it's warm."

A lifetime of memories from an explorer and member of our greatest generation.

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