Marine Mauls Bear

First he survived Vietnam. Then he survived combat with a black bear.

When 66-year-old Larry Yepez recently found himself in the jaws of a black bear outside his home in Midpine, California, he knew it was a matter of life and death.

“I could feel the blood running out of me,” he told the Washington Post. On August 13, just before dawn, Yepez was crossing through his yard when he encountered the bear – a hungry, 200Ib brute – and within seconds the two were engaged in hand-to-hand (or hand-to-paw) combat. “I decided, ‘I’ve got to fight.”

And that’s when things got ugly, for the bear. Yepez, who served in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart, knows a thing or two about fighting his way out of a fix. As the bear’s teeth ripped into Yepez’s hands, face and abdomen, the former Marine reached for the nearest object – a plastic flower pot – and began delivering blow after blow into the beast’s head.

“I got my feet underneath the bear and pushed as hard as I could,” Yepez said. “He stumbled back, looked at me and then he started to come at me again.”

Craving more adventures in the animal kingdom? See all of our Animal House stories here.

Meanwhile, in an extraordinary display of heroism, Yepez’s trusty 10-pound Yorkshire terrier, Benji, flanked the bear and nipped at its fur. “The bear turned around and swatted at the dog, and that gave us enough time to get back in and slam the door.”

Inside, Yepez drew his samurai sword, preparing to finish off his furry foe, but the bear apparently called it quits and fled into the woods. Yepez arrived at the local hospital drenched in blood, and was informed by doctors that he had nearly been disemboweled. Fortunately, he appears to be on his way to a full recovery.

The bear, on the other hand, may have dug his own grave. According to the Los Angeles Times, wildlife officials currently tracking the bear say it will likely be euthanized if caught.