In 2005, Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc on the south eastern seaboard of the United States. The world watched as the storm ravaged Louisiana and slowly covered the state in several feet of flood water. But out of the wreckage of that dark day, a photo emerged that warmed the hearts of millions.
The photo shows 3-yr-old LaShay Brown giving Master Sgt. Mike Maroney a huge, smiling hug after he rescued her and her family from the rising tide. It was a moment that rocked Maroney’s world as well. At the time he was struggling with PTSD, and when he was later sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, he took that photo of hope to help get him, “…through some difficult times.”
When Maroney returned from war, he made it his mission to find the little girl that had carried him through his darkest days. The Airman started the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl with his photo that went viral for all the right reasons. Within weeks, the “Katrina Girl” was found.
Sgt. Maroney and ‘Katrina Girl’ reunited for the first time on a television show called ‘The Real’ and have kept in touch ever since. LaShay, has never forgotten Maroney’s sacrifice for her and it even inspired her to join her school’s JROTC.
While Maroney is thrilled with her choice, he knows she’ll succeed no matter what!
“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” Maroney said. “I think she understands service and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”
Recently, LaShey asked him a question that hit him right in the heart. She asked him to accompany her to her upcoming JROTC ball, and the now 14-yr-old couldn’t be more excited to have her hero coming along.
Maroney may have saved LaShey’s life all those years ago, but if the Airman has anything to say about it, Katrina Girl “rescued me more than I rescued [her]”.
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