Claude D. Newby is not your average bear.
Chances are you've never met a man quite like him. As with many interesting people, Newby's personality is a blend of opposites.He's been a prison guard with a heart of gold, a police officer who taught LDS seminary.
As an Army chaplain he showed the guts of a Green Beret.
And now, he has wedded two more "inner-extremes."
Newby is now a man of action who has taken to writing books.
"It Took Heroes," his nuts-and-bolts tribute to the Vietnam War soldiers he served with, is now off the presses. A second volume is in the works.
And the book is both dry-eyed and emotional.
In other words, it's typical Newby.
"As with good food, the response an author hopes for is second helpings," he says. "So far three vets have ordered 85 copies."
Today Claude Newby and his wife, Helga, live a quiet, suburban life in Bountiful. They have more than two dozen grandkids and one great-granddaughter.
The former chaplain lives on a sidehill now, with a unique perspective of the valley. But more than that, his life has given him a unique perspective of the world.
"Most war movies are a disservice because they magnify the worst attitudes and behavior of the G.I.'s," Newby says. "War films also tend to 'orchestrate' warfare. But warfare is non-rhythmic. It's more like the opening scene in 'Saving Private Ryan.' "
Whatever you may think of Newby as a film critic, his credentials as a soldier are unquestioned. He has earned three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars of Valor and the Vietnamese Honor Medal and was the only chaplain in Vietnam to win a Combat Infantry Badge.
When he speaks, soldiers do more than come to attention.
They pay attention.
"In order to talk with soldiers you need to have their respect," he says. "In war, you have to live through what they've lived through before they'll listen. And you have to live the things you preach. During a war, American soldiers must have a constant reminder of higher values and a higher purpose to stand them in good stead when they return home or when they are taken in battle."
And in time of peace?
"In peace time," he smiles, "a chaplain is essentially a 'home teacher' with 700 people to visit."
As for his book, Newby says he's gratified to learn how therapeutic it has been for many former soldiers.
"I've tried not to be selective in the writing," he says. "I went through and simply told what happened. I doubt there'll be a time when the Vietnam War will be embraced. But I do think there will be a time that the soldiers will be."
Like the war he describes, "It Took Heroes" is not orchestrated. It is straightforward, relentless. It is one man's unvarnished look at his experience. And all the details are there -- the times, places, people.
To put his own ghosts to rest, Newby says he needed to write this book.
To put their ghosts to rest, many soldiers may find they need to read it.
It seems even now, retired and decades removed from the front lines, Claude C. Newby is still out there ministering to the troops.