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Real-life Wounded Hero

I fell in love with this couple when I came across this photo of double-amputee and former U.S. Marine Jesse Cottle being carried on his wife Kelly’s back.

It’s clear in this photo that Jesse chose joy, chose to truly LIVE even after everything he’d seen and experienced … and I had to know more. Because, if you know me, you know that this is an important topic to me (it’s a theme in the ARMY RANGER SERIES and my novel TRUE SURRENDER).

Jesse enlisted in 2003 and was on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan in 2009. He had a dangerous job – to find and dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – and that’s what he was doing when he stepped on a pressure plate.

Amazingly, much of this event was captured on film by one of his fellow Marines. That footage – along with interviews of Jesse and the men who were with him that day – was used in the documentary film, “Coming Home” – which I highly recommend watching.

There are so many definitions of “war hero” that I can’t begin to count them all, but surely Jesse exemplifies some of them. Ssgt Patrick Hilty, who was with Jesse that day, put it just the way I would:

“The way that [Jesse] continues to conduct his life is absolutely amazing and for that reason I would consider him a hero.”

Jesse met his wife, Kelly, during his recovery. “I remember being very intrigued by him,” Kelly said. “He was very different and not just because of his legs, just who he was.”

Both Jesse and Kelly are quick to point out that they are not unique. “We represent a lot of people, couples that are going through the same thing,” Kelly says. “It’s an honor to be able to represent that.”

I love it when I find a real-life story that embodies what I try to portray in my writing!


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