In the photo, double-amputee and former U.S. Marine Jesse Cottle is 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 (for one thing, it’s the subject of 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 here: https://vimeo.com/57161439
There are so many definitions of “war hero.” I can’t begin to count them all, but surely Jesse exemplifies at least one 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!
And in a small way, I have Jesse Cottle to thank for the imminent release of the audiobook version of True Surrender (details here). When I read about Jesse, the narration for True Surrender was complete (thanks to my friend Tim C) but I wasn’t sure I should spend the money to have it edited and mastered.
But if Jesse’s story can give someone hope, then perhaps True Surrender can too!
photo credit: Sarah Ledford, ShutterHappy Photography