'Katrina girl' to take Air Force vet who rescued her to JROTC ba - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

'Katrina girl' to take Air Force vet who rescued her to JROTC ball

LaShay Brown became known as the 'Katrina girl' for a 2005 photo of her smiling as she hugged Master Sergeant Mike Maroney, then a helicopter pararescue specialist. (Source: (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st class Veronica Pierce/Warner Bros/Erica Parise) LaShay Brown became known as the 'Katrina girl' for a 2005 photo of her smiling as she hugged Master Sergeant Mike Maroney, then a helicopter pararescue specialist. (Source: (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st class Veronica Pierce/Warner Bros/Erica Parise)

(RNN) - The girl from an iconic photo taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has asked one of the Air Force veterans who saved her and her family to escort her to her Junior ROTC ball.

LaShay Brown became known as the "Katrina girl" for a Sept. 6, 2005, photo of her smiling as she hugged the neck of Master Sergeant Mike Maroney, then a helicopter pararescue specialist. His team rescued the family, who had been stranded for days on the roof of their New Orleans home.

In 2010, he began posting the photo online to try and reunite with the family. After several years, it went viral, and he eventually saw LaShay in person in 2015 on the TV talk show The Real.

"You rescued me more than I rescued you," he said to her at the show.

People reported Maroney suffered from PTSD, and he had carried the photo with him on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a reminder of that moment.

The two have remained in touch since 2015, and they plan to attend the JROTC ball Saturday.

LaShay, now 14, told People that Maroney inspired her to join her high school's JROTC program.

A post shared by Mike M (@mahroney) on

Maroney plans to retire from the Air Force this month. He posted to Instagram a picture of the two of them from their last meeting, saying how excited he was to see her.

"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.

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