Back in 2005, pararescuer Mike Maroney with the U.S. Air Force rescued a little girl and her family from Hurricane Katrina. She thanked him with a huge hug, which was captured in a photo that Maroney carried with him during his deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Eventually, he tried to find the little girl he saved, even starting a #FindKatrinaGirl campaign on social media. Maroney finally met LaShay Brown on a TV show, where he told her, “You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
Maroney stayed in touch with her family with visits and weekly phone calls, and even encouraged her to join the Junior ROTC program, a pre-training program sponsored by the Armed Forces. And when LaShay attends the group’s upcoming ball, he’ll be there as her escort. "I'm going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family," Maroney says. "They mean as much to me as my own."