SAN DIEGO, Calif. - A photo of a Marine's wife holding her wounded husband may look like a symbolic gesture or something grand and intended for viral status, but Jesse Cottle told our sister station in San Diego that sometimes it is just how they get around.
He and his wife, Kelly, were having photos taken during a family weekend in Idaho when everyone gathered in the water. Jesse, a double amputee, then took off his prosthetic legs and hopped on Kelly's back so she could carry him in.
They had no idea what would happen when the photo was posted online to Facebook.
"Everything just kept skyrocketing," said Jesse. "And we were just astounded."
Jesse lost his legs in 2009 in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED. He and Kelly met while he was recovering and were married last year.
"It doesn't matter how heavy he is," Kelly told 10News. "It just makes me thankful, more than anything that I am able to share these moments with Jesse and that he is still here."
Jesse said that his wife started carrying him at the beach because his prosthetics do not support him very well in the sand. So when the photographer asked the couple to hop in the water, she did not think twice.
"It kind of symbolizes the kind of person that my wife is … The type of person that she is on the inside and out," said Jesse. "She's physically carrying me but man, there are times when she's carrying me emotionally."
Jesse and Kelly told their story during an interview aired on Good Morning America Tuesday morning.
"We both believe that the husband – he’s the man – he’s the head of the household, but it’s also perfectly OK for the ladies to kind of support the man and carry the man both physically and figuratively," Jesse told 10News.
They say that the attention is unexpected but they plan to use it to help others.
"It's humbling," said Kelly. "It's hard to think of yourself as a big deal to anyone, but the fact that it may help people does mean a lot to us."
The couple met during a swim meet after Jesse was hurt. It was one of his first outings wearing his new prosthetic legs.
"His personality and who he is outweighs his injuries, that you sort of forget it for a while," Kelly told ABC News.
"If I wouldn't have stepped on that IED, I don't think I would have met her. I wouldn't take that back, ever," Jesse told ABC News.
They celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Aug. 18.