Marine Staff Sgt. Jesse Cottle and wife Kelly: a love story


By Debbie Gregory.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Former Marine Staff Sgt. Jesse Cottle of San Diego lost both legs when and improvised explosive device he was attempting to deactivate went off in 2009. He endured a long and painful recovery.

For most active Marines, this would have been devastating, but soon after Cottle returned home, he met Kelly, a beautiful, vivacious Boise State swimmer, in San Diego.  Jesse, who enjoyed an active lifestyle before the accident, was at a swim meet during his recovery when he was introduced to the woman who would be his wife.  As he learned to live a normal life, it was Kelly who stayed by his side. Jesse and Kelly married and, in a way, the improvised explosive device brought them together. He wore his prosthetics during their first wedding dance.

While the Cottles were visiting family in Boise, Idaho, the owner of ShutterHappy Photography, Sarah Ledford, captured an image that has gone viral.

The family portrait included Kelly Cottle, carrying her husband Jesse on her back, while wading in the creek with her family.

The picture of Kelly hoisting Jesse on her back is a reminder of the power of love. “I actually look at it very much as a symbol for our whole relationship in general,” Jesse Cottle said. “She’s physically carrying me, but there’s times where she’s carrying me emotionally. It’s a perfect representation of who Kelly is.”

Their love story, represented in the photo that has gone viral on the web, shows heroism, sacrifice, and how a couple overcame their challenges with hope and positivity. It’s a love story that instantly warms the heart and renews faith.