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Wounded Warrior Carried By Love [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

Jesse and Kelly Cottle
Sarah Ledford, ShutterHappy Photography

My nephew Jesse thought he lost it all when he lost both of his legs in an I.E.D. explosion in Afghanistan a little more than 3 years ago, until…he met the love of his life Kelly.

Jesse, a Marine was injured while doing his job as an E.O.D sweeping for bombs that were planted by the Taliban. The squad went over an area after disarming a few that they found, but the one they didn’t find was the one Jesse stepped on.  His team, risking their own lives from possible snipers in the area, rushed him out and he was quickly airlifted from the scene and onto an operating table, undergoing the first of what would be several amputations to both of his legs.

Jesse was sent later to Germany, then off to Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland where he had several more surgeries.  He later was taken back to San Diego, where he was originally deployed to Afghanistan from Camp Pendleton.  It was at the hospital in San Diego where Jesse began extensive and sometimes extreme physical therapy, and learning how to walk all over again, first with “stubbies” or very short legs, to eventually receiving his first of many prosthetics.  It was during this recovery time that Jesse met his soon to be wife Kelly at an event, and event that changed his life forever.  From that one event came an event of their own, their wedding one year ago last August.

They were recently in Idaho visiting Kelly’s parents, when the family thought it would be nice to have some professional photos taken of their entire family for Christmas.  The photographer, Sarah Ledford at ShuterHappy Photography, wanted them all to stand in the middle of a beautiful stream, so Jesse removed his legs and his wife carried him on his back, while the photographer snapped away, with the entire group, and with Jesse and Kelly alone.

The photographer later posted their loving picture on her Facebook page, which soon turned into a photo that went viral.  Soon after, they received phone calls from several local television stations for interviews, and then, they got a call from someone national, Good Morning America! 

Jesse told GMA that the picture told the story of how his beautiful bride is, she “carries” him, sometimes literally, but carries him through thick and thin through their relationship. And personally knowing Jesse and Kelly, I know their love will continue to carry each other through the end of time.

Who do you know that is your hero who’s serving our country?  Whether it be someone in the military, or a first responder who’s putting their lives out there on the line?  Let us honor them!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Ledford, ShutterHappy Photography.  See her work here and visit her on Facebook. 

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