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‘Katrina Girl’ from famous 2005 hurricane photo is bringing her Air Force vet rescuer to JROTC ball

March 17, 2017 (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce/Air Force)
An Air Force pararescue jumper will reunite once again with the girl he rescued from Hurricane Katrina, this time as her guest to an upcoming JROTC ball, according to People magazine.  

The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney hugging the 3-year-old LaShay Brown, after rescuing her and her family from their flooded New Orleans home. The iconic photo was circulated on magazine covers, at military bases and even appeared on placemats.

In 2015, almost 10 years after the hurricane devastated New Orleans, Maroney launched a campaign to find the girl from the photo. The hashtag #findkatrinagirl circulated on social media. Air Force Times led the charge, posting a   story  about Maroney's effort to reconnect with her that quickly went viral among the thousands of Military Times social media followers. After several months, the two were finally reunited that September, according to The Times-Picayune.

Brown has since joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, the high school program sponsored by the armed forces. Brown says she plans to join the military one day, although she is not yet sure which branch

Now, Brown has invited Maroney to her JROTC military ball. “I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family. They mean as much to me as my own,” Maroney told People.

"Your hug, it helped me through hard days, and rough days,” Maroney said when the two first reunited. “You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
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