Humor's Healing Remedy: One Iraq War Veteran's Journey of Recovery

PHOTO: Army 2nd Lt. Mark Little lost both his legs in Iraq, but not his optimism or his sense of humor.
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Four years ago, Army 2nd Lt. Mark Little was in bad shape -- severely injured, with both legs ripped off by a roadside bomb, lying in a Baghdad combat hospital.

When he arrived at the hospital, the lower part of his right leg was gone and the lower part of his left leg was barely attached.

ABC News had the chance to meet Little on that day when he was only semi-conscious and his survival wasn't certain.

Little was just 24 years old, college educated, the youngest of eight children and the only one of his siblings to join the military. He was helping to deliver supplies when his Humvee was struck.

What was remarkable about Little then, as he lay on a stretcher in Iraq, was that he hadn't lost his sense of humor.

"My mom's gonna kick my ass," Little joked to a nurse who commented that his parents must be proud of him.

"I had been underplaying what I was actually doing in the deployment, 'oh I am sitting around in a secure area, I am working in a warehouse,' not to worry her, I thought this going to be trouble, she is going to know I wasn't sitting in a warehouse," Little recalls.

In a recent interview, and the first time we saw little since that day in Iraq, Little said that day had been on the worst day of his life -- the day he lost his legs. But even then, he had good reason to be as optimistic and light-hearted as he was.

"I was there talking to you, so many other guys and gals were not, they were not that lucky, they saved my knees, so many other guys and gals that I interact with daily, they weren't that fortunate," Little says.

Little still hasn't lost his high spirit and sense of humor today, standing proudly on a set of prosthetic legs. He is a living example of the healing power of humor if there ever was one.

"It's just the way I am," Little says. "It's easier to smile than cry and you don't accomplish anything by complaining."

If you need any evidence of Little's life philosophy at work, just take a look at his active lifestyle. He certainly hasn't let his handicap slow him down, getting plenty of exercise walking, running, and even playing hockey.

Recently, Little put himself through grueling workouts in full body armor to raise money for the families of those 22 Navy SEALs and special operations troops killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan last month.

Learn more about the organization that Little trained with to raise the money for the 22 killed SEALs.

The story of Little's recovery doesn't end with his athletic determination. Little says that in addition to keeping a strong sense of humor, the support of family, friends and other veterans has been a crucial part of his healing process.

He has also gone on to to find love, with his wife Alicia.

Alicia says that when she met Little, she didn't even notice his prosthetics.

"He was so funny and sweet and was so cute," Alicia Little says of her first meeting with her husband.

Mark Little says he doesn't look back on his injury with bitterness, saying that it has contributed to making him the man -- and husband -- he is today. And he wouldn't change it.

"There is a reason for everything that happened that way," Little says. "And during that process of forming who I am right now, as I sit here to talk to you, I got more of the traits that my wife fell in love with, so imagine had that not happened, we'd be sitting here on very different terms, decidedly single and unhappy, versus what I am right now, which is the happiest I could imagine, nothing could be better."

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