An Air Force enlistee who worked as a pararescue jumper in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is reuniting with the little girl he hugged in a now-iconic photograph to a Junior ROTC ball.
The photo captured a smiling 3-year-old LaShay Brown hugging Master Sgt. Mike Maroney after his team plucked the girl and her family to safety in a helicopter in the aftermath of the 2005 disaster.
Over the years he desperately tried to find her. They were reunited on a TV talk show in 2015.
LaShay, now 14, plans to bring Maroney to the JROTC ball Saturday, Fox 8 New Orleans reports.
LaShay told People magazine that Maroney inspired her to join her high school’s JROTC program, the station reported Friday.
“I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family,” Maroney told People, according to the station. “They mean as much to me as my own.”
He posted on Instagram a recent photo of him and LaShay together, saying how excited he was to see her.