FARMINGTON — Ninety-year-old Martin Johnson walked into his living room carrying a black and white photograph taken in 1940s San Francisco.

In the photograph, the World War II Navy veteran stood alongside three shipmates during their going away party at the Palace Hotel.

On Wednesday, Johnson will join fellow World War II veterans from this state on a plane headed to Washington, D.C., as part of the first ever Honor Flight of Northern New Mexico.

The trip is offered through the Honor Flight Network, which flies World War II veterans to the nation's capital to see the national monument dedicated to them and their service.

His flight was scheduled to leave Wednesday morning from Albuquerque then arrive in Baltimore.

Martin Johnson speaks to his daughter Susan on Monday at his home in Farmington.
Martin Johnson speaks to his daughter Susan on Monday at his home in Farmington. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

On Thursday, the group will travel from Baltimore to visit memorials dedicated to World War II, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea and Iwo Jima. They also will witness the changing of the guards at Arlington National Cemetery,

In an interview on Monday at this home, Johnson said this is his first trip to the nation's capital.

His expectations for the trip were to "go and see what's back there. Look at these monuments that honor the history of this country."

Some of his luggage was packed on Monday and he was still making arrangements with his daughter, Susan, to drive from Farmington to Albuquerque.

Johnson said he first heard about Honor Flight after his brother, who also served in the Navy, participated four years ago.

Susan Johnson worked with the program to make travel arrangements for her father and will accompany him throughout the trip.

"One of the reasons I'm going along with this is I want the publicity so other fellows can get this opportunity. It's there for them and they should take it," the elder Johnson said.

He was drafted into the Navy in June 1943 after graduating from Del Norte High School in Del Norte, Colo.

"I graduated one week and the next week, I was in the Navy," he said.

Johnson talked a bit about his service then explained that he does not talk extensively about it because it could be considered bragging.

"I don't like to brag, but I will talk about it, but I will talk in general," he said when asked about his military service.

He remembers traveling to San Diego, going through quartermaster school then being assigned to the USS La Vallette, a Fletcher-class destroyer. He served in the Pacific Theater. He was honorably discharged in March 1945. Johnson regularly attends reunions with his ship mates.

"There's no bragging about it. You were there, you served your time then that's it," he said.

After his discharge, Johnson used the GI Bill to study at Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colo., then at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. He also attended the Los Angeles College of Optometry.

"I made my mind up, I was going to school," he said. "I wanted something better."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.