After 10 years of searching for the young girl he rescued during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Master Sergeant Mike Maroney finally reunited with his “Katrina Girl.”
According to People, an emotional reunion took place between Maroney and LeShay Brown during a taping of “The Real” on Tuesday (Sept. 15). The reunion comes years after a photo of Maroney and Brown hugging captured the heart of the nation. Earlier this month, Maroney revealed that he finally found Brown.
Reminiscing over the embrace, Maroney said that Brown’s hug was a true inspiration. “If she’s strong enough to handle this, I can handle this,” the 19-year pararescue jumper told “The Real” hosts before he was “re-introduced” to Brown.
“I wish I could explain to you how important your hug was,” Maroney said to a choked up Brown after hugging her again. “Your small gesture helped me through a dark phase. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
People notes that although times have been hard for the pair since Katrina, “The Real” came through big time with a $10,000 check for each family. Although she doesn’t remember much from the rescue, Brown spoke to People after seeing Maroney again, saying that what he told her “really means a lot.”
For the Air Force veteran, the reunion was a long time coming as he shared with Brown and her mother Shawntrell that that has “dreamt of this day for a long time” and that “finding you guys, and knowing you’re okay, has been a weight off my back.”
“I’ve rescued a lot of people, but there have also been a lot of people I couldn’t rescue, he mentioned to People regarding his job. “Life sometimes gets dark, knowing there are good people who love life and are happy, the resiliency that she had has been a strength for me.”
Brown and Maroney’s reunion will continue, as their families will see each other again in Brown’s adopted town of Waveland, Mississippi. In addition, the pair plans on keeping in touch with each other as Maroney revealed that he and Brown have already been checking in on each other through texting as well as “talking quite a bit.”
Read/learn MORE at People.