As a 30-year United States Navy veteran, Atlantic City native Mark H. Buzby has traveled the world. He has been to every continent except Antarctica. And thanks to his recent promotion, he will be able to check that one off, too, when he goes there in January.

The rear admiral took the helm as commander of the Navy's Military Sealift Command last week. The global command, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the ocean transportation provider for the Department of Defense, responsible for the operation of more than 110 noncombatant ships that support military and humanitarian missions worldwide.

Buzby's family owned the historic Dennis Hotel in Atlantic City for more than 100 years. He returns home regularly to visit his mother Aino and brother David, both of whom live in Linwood.

"From my earliest days sitting on the beach in Atlantic City, I always wanted to do this," Buzby said. "I traveled the seas worldwide, and it's been wonderful."

So how does it feel being in charge of a fleet and more than 9,000 civilian and military personnel?

"It's very challenging," said Buzby, who lives in Arlington, Va., with his wife, Gina. "We're dealing with a several-billion-dollar budget and a lot of responsibility. We are the largest shipping company in the United States. It was always in my blood. I wake up with that fire still burning in my belly."

That fire will help when he's in Antarctica.

If you bus them,

they will come

When Barnegat Township's Fernando Messercola opened the Dock Road Crab Shack on South Main Street in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township four months ago, he realized that he was not drawing as many senior citizens as he had originally hoped.

So he decided to go get them.

Messercola decided to put his bus - which he planned to use at Antoinetta's, a restaurant he co-owns with his brothers in the nearby Cedar Run section of the township - to good use.

"It was just sitting there," Messercola said. "I wasn't using it. So I figured, 'What the heck? Let me try something that no one else is doing.'"

So Messercola had his black, handicapped-accessible bus outfitted with decals that say things such as, "It's a Shack Attack Baby!" and he started picking up groups of senior citizens.

His first pickup was at a 50-and-older community in Tuckerton, and he has done several others since.

"It's actually a lot of fun for them because they normally can't do this," Messercola said. "There are a lot of 50-plus communities and elderly homes around here, and the people there not only get to go to a restaurant and eat seafood, which they love, but they go out and celebrate and don't have to worry about driving or getting a ride. We have them singing on the bus and everything."

For the record, Messercola, who personally drives the bus, will even bus groups in for his early-bird specials.

"Of course," he said with a laugh. "What surprised us the most is that we did pretty well with tips on the bus. They were just that happy to get out."

Short Stories

Northfield's Tom Crozier-Carole and his daughter Sophia were driving down Ansley Boulevard through Pleasantville when they noticed that a recent storm blew the American flags surrounding the veterans' memorial to the ground. Sophia was so upset that she asked her father, an Atlantic City firefighter, to pull over to fix them. He gladly agreed, and they set every flag - about 100 of them - upright. … Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, was recently recognized as the 2009 State Star for New Jersey by the National Association of Small Business Development Centers. … Diane Tomash, of Little Egg Harbor Township, recently won the Placide Danes Schreiver Memorial Award at the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club's 113th annual national exhibition for her monotype, "Reciprocal Reliance," which remains on display through Oct. 23 at the National Arts Club in New York. … Dock's Oyster House in Atlantic City recently hosted an autumn benefit dinner to support the Atlantic City Day Nursery, which serves all of Atlantic County. Like Dock's, the nursery has been in existence for more than 100 years. Chaired by Gary Hill, of Atlantic City, and Patti Lees, of Margate, the event raised $6,000.

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at scronick@pressofac.com.

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