COLTON (CBSLA) — After being airlifted to a hospital in an unexpected fight for his life following a brutal and bizarre attack with a baseball bat, 68-year-old Paul Dianda has now survived three weeks at Colton’s Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

“It’s hard not to break down seeing your dad like that,” Michael Dianda, the victim’s son, said.

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The Diandas are an Army family, but before joining the army, Paul served 27 years in the Marine Corps.

“He was in Iraq, too,” Michael said. “He’s the type of guy that if you’re in trouble, he’ll help you out.”

Michael said he wasn’t surprised that his dad defended his 73-year-old neighbor after a stranger crashed his car into her Hespria home, grabbed a bat, chased her inside and assaulted her.

“In the process, the guy got the better of him and hit him a couple of times in the head with the bat,” Michael said.

Deputies with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department later shot and killed the suspect, 42-year-old Mauro Carillo.

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The 73-year-old woman is back at home recovering from the attack, but Paul fell into a coma. Michael said he knows his dad has a lot of fight left in him.

“He’s proven doctors wrong every day,” Michael said.

He said doctors originally thought his father might have been brain dead, but said that he’s gradually coming around.

“I’ll be like, ‘Dad, dad, can you see me,'” Michael said. “And he’ll open his eyes a little bit.”

And Michael knows what it’s like to cheat death after surviving multiple combat wounds in Iraq back in 2010 with his father by his side. Now, he said, it’s his turn.

Michael pinned his purple heart to his father’s hospital gown — he said he’s earned it.

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Once Paul is out of the hospital, he will be moved to a long-term care facility. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover Paul’s medical expenses.