Navy Vet Not Only Survives but Stays Awake Through Fierce Bear Kiss

Scott E Read /
Scott E Read /

It’s widely known that the veterans of the US military are largely some tough sons-of-bitches. As insulting as that term might sound, it’s a badge of honor for many to have it phrased that way, but it still doesn’t measure up for 61-year-old Navy Veteran and businessman Rudy Noorlander.

A group of hunters who had rented all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from his company in Big Sky, MT, had gotten a deer but were having trouble tracking it. Noorlander came out to join the party and found himself face to face with a gigantic bear that he drew his firearm down on. As his daughter KateLynn Davis described it on her GoFundMe page, and the story is quite a doozy.

“He had tracked a deer, but it turns out it was not the deer the hunters had shot. He saw one smaller adult grizzly bear nearby. Instinctively, he pulled out his firearm in hopes of scaring away the grizzly but before he could even have time to react, a different 10-foot-tall and far more aggressive bear was on him. Rudy aimed his gun at the bear but his firearm misfired, making his best choice of defense his fists as he did not have any time to get his bear spray from his backpack.”

Trapped, Rudy had little option left. “As the bear lunged, the only thing Rudy could do was punch the bear in hopes of slowing it down. Unfortunately, it did not, and after the first punch, the Grizzly was on top of Rudy. The Grizzly left a large scratch down his right chest, bit his arms, and legs, and to top it all off, gave him as what Rudy describes as the most disgusting French kiss of his life before biting down and tearing off his lower jaw.”

When the bear finally let go of Noorlander, the damage had already been done. With an airlift called in, the team needed to respond with two helicopters to ensure any other bears were kept away from the area. Even with loud blades, and severe wind disturbance, bears can still attack the first responders, and that can trigger more bears to come respond when they hear a sound of fighting from another bear.

Despite the agonizing pain, the squid stayed fully conscious for two whole hours before they got there. He was airlifted to Bozeman Deaconess for stabilization and initial treatment, then to the University of Utah hospital for better treatment. While this veteran has VA health insurance, it won’t cover everything he needs, especially after an attack like this. The medical bills and time away will pile up for him and his family.

As sad as this story might seem, this is astonishing.

For the man to survive a double bear attack, as well as their French kiss, is astonishing. That alone is badass enough to garner respect. To also have his lower jaw ripped from his face and stay conscious for TWO HOURS with half his face missing is something else. The road to recovery for Rudy will be long and hard. One that he will likely face many obstacles on, but one that he will also surely conquer.

Given his selfless service to help his clients find their deer, he did exactly what the Navy or any other branch would have expected of him. Going above and beyond to go against a bear, though, is something else entirely. As his VA insurance should be covering things, a story like this makes the case for the VA to increase the coverage they offer their veterans.

When these brave men and women sign their lives away, they are telling the American people that they are willing to do anything to protect them. Rudy served his time but never forgot that oath. This case should be a testament that all Veterans deserve full care with no deductible, regardless of cost. God knows they already paid that deductible with a stroke of the pen.