Vietnam vet Larry Yepez, standing 5-foot 9-inches, came face to face with a 200 pound black bear on his front porch at 4 a.m. when he stepped outside with his Yorkshire Terrier, Benji, to take his morning walk in Midpines, California near Yosemite National Park.
Soon the fight was on, with Benji fearlessly nipping at the bear’s fur while the 66-year-old Yepez attempted to fight off the animal. In moments, the bear, who had about 35 pounds on the smaller man, was crushing his hand in its teeth and ripping at his face and stomach.
“I could feel the blood running out of me,” Yepez told The Washington Post. “That’s when I decided, ‘I’ve got to fight, man.’”
Mustering enough strength to get under the bear and force the animal back, Yepez and Benji made a break for it and made it back inside, bolting the door behind him. Then, arming himself with a samurai sword (what else?) the wounded man waited for the coast to clear before driving himself to the hospital to get stitched up.
The bear combat was far from Yepez’s first brush with danger. A Marine with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, he was wounded in Vietnam then returned home to become a wild land firefighter with the Forest Service for more than 20 years.