It's an image that found reverberations around the world with thousands of "likes", hundreds of shares and comments. The picture of wife carrying her soldier husband who lost legs in a Taliban IED attack in Afghanistan has gone viral on the Internet and touched the hearts of thousands worldwide. Jesse Cottle joined the Marines in 2003 and left in 2009 after an IED blew up both his legs. He met his wife Kelly, during his recovery in San Diego.
. Kelly and Jesse Cottle (Image courtesy of Sarah Ledford/ShutterHappy Photography)
In 2009, during his deployment, Jesse was dismantling an explosive device. In the process it blew off and left him a double amputee. However, despite his incapacitating injuries, it is at a swimming competition in San Diego that he met his wife Kelly, a swimmer for Boise State. The couple married a year ago and the touching picture was taken while they visited her family in Idaho recently.
KTVB.com with reported the story said that Jesse joined the Marine Corps in August 2003. During his deployment in Afghanistan he had a very dangerous job to find and dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It was on one such patrol that Jesse's life changed forever.
"About 5 hours into that patrol, into that mission, I was struck by an anti-personnel IED," Jesse told KTVB.com. "It was a pressure plate, I stepped on it and lost both legs right away."
One of his fellow Marines was wearing a helmet camera, and the explosion that injured Jesse was caught on tape.
"I remember most everything," he said "I was awake the whole time."
"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."
"I just remember being very intrigued by him," Kelly said about Jesse whom she met during a swimming meet in San Diego. "He was just very different and not just because of his legs, just who he was."
They were married last year and now live in San Diego. Recently, while in Idaho visiting Kelly's family, they took family portraits. The photographer Sarah Ledford suggested taking a picture in the water.
"It's just pretty normal, so he hopped back on my back and then Sarah's like 'oh, we'll take some couples shots," said Kelly regarding the photo shoot.
One shot showed Kelly carrying Jesse on her back. This was posted by Ledford on her Facebook page, but she did not quite expect the reaction the image would get.
"Overwhelming, I can't even keep up with my page," Ledford told KTVB.com. "The picture just blew up, America just fell in love with Jesse and Kelly."
Jesse said the massive support for their image was very humbling. "I'm glad that we can have that impact, but you don't expect it," he said. "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 honour to be able to represent that," Kelly told KTVB.com.