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Jesse and Kelly Cottle: Wife carries legless Marine on her back in viral photo

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   Aug. 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM   |   Comments

Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Jesse Cottle, a 28-year-old former Marine from San Diego, Calif., says he doesn't regret the stepping on the IED that lost him both of his legs in 2009.

“If I hadn’t stepped on that IED I wouldn’t have met her,” Jesse said of his wife, Kelly, whom he met while learning to use his prosthetic legs. “I wouldn’t take it back ever.”

The two met at a swim meet in San Diego, when she was a swimmer for Boise State and he was still getting used to the prosthetics.

"I just remember being very intrigued by him," Kelly said of their first meeting. "He was just very different and not just because of his legs, just who he was."

When a photo of the happy couple -- with Kelly carrying Jesse on her back -- hit the Facebook page of photographer Sarah Ledford, it immediately went viral, racking up tens of thousands of likes.

“The photo really says it all,” Jesse told ABC. “I actually look at it very much as a symbol for our whole relationship in general. She’s physically carrying me, but there’s times where she’s carrying me emotionally. It’s a perfect representation of who Kelly is.”

The Cottles told KTVB that they had no idea the picture would strike such a chord for so many.

"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," Kelly said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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