The "Battle of Newark" was mentioned in Russert's Book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons
By William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews
BROOKLAWN, NJ (November 25, 2006)--Surprised by the overwhelming and heartfelt reception to Big Russ and Me(2004), Tim Russert follows that memoir of his relationship with his father with a collection of letters he received recounting relationships between fathers and their sons and daughters. Read more
A letter from Rich Sauer, who writes about his father, Big Ade of Haddonfield NJ is published among the other letters in Russert’s book. Big Ade was in the New Jersey National Guard and served with retired Sgt. Jeep MacAdams, of Brooklawn N.J.
Jeep (pictured) has three sons (Ken, Tom and Scott MacAdams) and a daughter, Jeanne.
Also mention in the letter is a few lines about the riots in Newark N.J. in 1967. Better known to those who fought in that conflict as the “BATTLE OF NEWARK.”
My father was known as Big Ade, which was short for Adrian Francis Sauer Jr. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps right after Pearl Harbor, although he eventually washed out because of a fractured skull from childhood, he graduated from Infantry Officers' Training School at Fort Benning, where he was trained to help lead what would have been a suicidal invasion of Japan. The A-bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki just before he became a second lieutenant. These awful events probably saved his life and gave me mine. Then he came home to start a family. He loved the army, but he didn't want to drag his family to army posts across the nation and around the world.
Instead, he bought a luncheonette on the main street of Haddonfield, New Jersey. He called it Ade's Lunch, where he figured out that he was not in the food business as much as the entertainment business, and where people of all classes and colors ate in equality. In the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Yankees were in the World Series, Dad would rent a black-and-white TV to put on top of the phone booth, so his customers could join him in cheering for the pinstripes. His favorite player, and mine, was Yogi Berra..
Big Ade's second job was serving in the New Jersey National Guard one weekend every month and for two weeks each summer at Camp Drum in Watertown, New York. Dad loved the Guard, but Mom and my brothers resented it because of the time it took from us and the strains it put on the family business.
In the summer of 1967, his Guard unit was sent to Newark, where a riot had erupted and police were having trouble containing it. Dad went without having any idea how dangerous or how long his mission would be. When he returned many days later, he told us that his job was to drive through the fiery city in an open-top Jeep with his M-l Garand and to ferry intelligence from one point to the next. He said there was enough gunfire to keep him on his toes, and that this was the only time in thirty-four years of military service that he had ever been in combat. That was all he said.
When Big Ade died a few years ago, we had both his memorial service and his wake in a local restaurant. There were old photos of him on display and artifacts from his sports career, Ade's Lunch, and the Army. His favorite Glenn Miller music was playing in the background; The "celebration of life" was scheduled for 1 P.M., with drinks and lunch at noon.
Suddenly, at 10:45, thirty of Big Ade's National Guard comrades came into the room, most of them wearing caps with their unit's number on it. They greeted me as if I were their long-lost son and expressed their sympathies with tremendous warmth and a few tears. I immediately understood why my father treasured his Guard experience and had such love and respect for his buddies.
A clergyman friend of the family, who used to eat in Ade's Lunch when he was a boy, gave a great homily. I somehow made it through the eulogy I had written for my dad without breaking down.
Then, as I made my way around the large room to say thank you, one of Big Ade's old Guard buddies, Sergeant "Jeep" MacAdams, grabbed the sleeve of my suit. Jeep told me that it was my dad who had encouraged him to go into the Guard after World War II, which saved him from driving a cab in Camden for the rest of his life. 'There are so many stories I could tell you about your old man, Richie," Jeep rasped into my ear. "But let me tell you at least this one . . .
"You know we were in Newark during the riots of 'sixty-seven. It was a combat situation, let me tell you. I want you to know what an excellent and brave soldier your old man was. He was a true leader.
"We were called to a building that the state police had their machine guns trained on. They said they needed backup because there were rioters in the building. They told us to help them take this position with tear gas, machine guns, and grenades, whatever.Your dad challenged the state cops from the get-go.
He asked them what made them think there were no innocent civilians inside the position. The state police were zealous, you see. They had already fired shots, and they wanted us to fire warning shots, but your dad asked them to please hold their fire. Then he volunteered to assess the situation. He stayed low and got to the big door of the building, which was locked, and he calmly announced, I'm with the New Jersey National Guard and I'm here to lead you to safety. Everything will be okay. Follow me.'
"Suddenly, about twenty-five black high school kids came out of the building behind him, shaking and crying. Your dad was comforting them with one hand and giving the 'hold your fire' sign with the other. He asked if they needed water or food. Rich, your dad treated those kids with such respect and kindness. If he hadn't gotten involved, I'm sure there would have been bloodshed, if not death."
This was what I learned for the first time at Big Ade's memorial service. Could I be more proud of him had he won the Congressional Medal of Honor? I don't think so.
— Rich sauer, Ocean City, NJ