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Photo of US Marine on Wife’s Back Goes Viral

jesse and kelly cottle
Sarah Ledford / ShutterHappy Photography

My son is a United States Marine. He will leave for his first major assignment in a few weeks. I know this CNN story would bring a tear to my tough Marines eyes. An Idaho couple makes you believe that true love does exist.

The photo of the former Marine on his wife’s back has gone viral and is hitting the hearts of thousands.
Former Marine Jesse Cottle was seriously wounded while on an IED clearing mission in Afghanistan.

“About 5 hours into that patrol, into that mission, I was struck by an anti-personnel IED,” said Jesse Cottle. “It was a pressure plate; I stepped on it and lost both legs right away.”
The explosion was caught on camera.

“I remember most everything I was awake the whole time,” said Cottle. “It was tough and it is tough in general, but I just kind of always had the attitude that it’s really tough now but things will just be okay, and I had my family around me I had good friends and basically just my faith really helped me to carry me through and I was lucky to be able to go through the tough recovery, and then still live my life, and meet my beautiful wife.”

He met Kelly during his recovery. She was swimming for Boise State at the time.
“I met her at a swim meet in San Diego,” said Jesse Cottle.

“And I just remember being very intrigued by him, said Kelly Cottle. “He was just very different and not because of his legs, just who he was.”

wounded soldier jessie cottle and wife kelly
Sarah Ledford / ShutterHappy Photography

They were married in 2012. They live in San Diego now, but they were in Idaho visiting Kelly’s family when they took family portraits shot by ShutterHappy Photography‘s Sarah Ledford.

“It was a normal photo shoot, we finally got together and Jessie had his legs on and everything,” said Kelly Cottle.

Photographer Sarah Ledford suggested a picture in the water. “So we said ‘well, you can just pop off your legs and get on one of our backs and we’ll take you in’ and so, ’cause that’s just how we get around sometimes, like at the beach,” said Kelly Cottle. “We do it all the time. It’s just pretty normal, so he hopped back on my back and then Sarah’s like ‘oh, we’ll take some couples shots.’”

Ledford posted one of those shots on ShutterHappy Photography’s Facebook page. She had no idea the image of Kelly Carrying Jesse on her back would get the reaction it did.

“Overwhelming, I can’t even keep up with my page,” said Sarah Ledford of Shutterhappy Photography The photo got thousands of likes and hundreds of shares and comments. “The picture just blew up,” said Ledford. “America just fell in love with Jesse and Kelly.

“‘God bless the both of you and thank you tremendously for your sacrifice for our freedom, you are a hero,’” said Jesse Cottle, reading a Facebook comment.

“What’s it like to see these comments Jesse?” asked reporter Maggie O’Mara. ”It again, I’m just speechless,” said Jesse. “Having that kind of impact it’s very humbling. My first reaction was I just wanted to reply to each one, but then they kept coming. I’m glad that we can have that kind of impact, but you don’t expect it.”

“Yeah, it’s just kind of normal for us,” said Kelly Cottle. “But it’s cool because we represent a lot of people, couples that are going through the same thing and so it’s just an honor to be able to represent that.”

Now Jesse and Kelly are an inspiration to thousands and a reminder of the sacrifices being made by our military every day. ”And that people actually care means a lot,” said Kelly Cottle.

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