[Trigger Warning: Graphic sounds, and images of war.]
A photo of former Marine Jesse Cottle and his wife is going viral on Facebook. Jesse lost both of his legs in Afghanistan, and an image of his wife carrying him on her back is now touching the hearts of thousands of people.
After Jesse joined the Marine Corps in August 2003, his job was to find and dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
While on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009, Jesse's life changed forever:
"About 5 hours into that patrol, into that mission, I was struck by an anti-personnel IED," Jesse said. "It was a pressure plate, I stepped on it and lost both legs right away."
"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."
During his recovery, Jesse met his future bride, Kelly. She was a swimmer for Boise State, and they met during a swim meet in San Diego, CA.
"I just remember being very intrigued by him," Kelly said. "He was just very different and not just because of his legs, just who he was."
They were married last year and now make their home in San Diego.
Recently, while in Idaho visiting Kelly's family, they took family portraits.
"It was a normal photo shoot, we finally got together and Jessie had his legs on and everything," said Kelly.
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. "It's just pretty normal, so he hopped back on my back and then Sarah's like 'oh, we'll take some couples shots.'"↓ Story continues below ↓
Ledford posted one of those shots on her 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 Ledford. "The picture just blew up, America just fell in love with Jesse and Kelly."
Now, Jesse and Kelly are an inspiration to thousands and a reminder of the sacrifices being made by our military everyday.
That video of the IED explosion was used in a documentary about Jesse, his injury and his recovery. It's called "Coming Home". You can watch it right now by clicking here.
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