Iconic 'Katrina Girl' will bring the Air Force vet who rescued her 12 years ago from the 2005 hurricane to her junior officers ball - after signing up for the military herself.

Iconic 'Katrina Girl' will bring the Air Force vet who rescued her 12 years ago from the 2005 hurricane to her junior officers ball - after signing up for the military herself.

His name is Mike Maroney. He has an active YouTube channel about what it takes to become a Pararescueman, the elite force of the Air Force (think Air Force Green Beret.)

After this photo was taken he went on to state he was struggling with PTSD at the time and credited this moment as a big factor in his recovery. He carried this photo with him on multiple deployments to the Middle East afterwards.

That's fucking beautiful

Here appears to be the source of this image.

According to there:



Master Sergeant Mike Maroney has kept a certain picture on his wall over the past 10 years – that of himself and a little girl he delivered to safety during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As the poignant photo of the twosome hugging swept the nation, so did Maroney’s search for the happy girl and her family.

After PEOPLE broke the news earlier this month that Maroney, 40, had ultimately found his “Katrina Girl” (her name is LeShay Brown), the pair finally reunited during an emotional taping of The Real on Tuesday.

Maroney first explained to the show’s hosts why LeShay’s hug had inspired him so much, saying, “If she’s strong enough to handle this, I can handle this.” Then, the pararescue jumper of 19 years was finally “re-introduced” to the girl who changed his life all those years ago.

After taking a moment to finally embrace again, Maroney told a choked up LeShay, “I wish I could explain to you how important your hug was. Your small gesture helped me through a dark phase. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”

Unfortunately, both families have hit hard times since Katrina (Maroney is injured and therefore cannot currently serve), so the pair was shocked and overjoyed when the hosts presented each family with a $10,000 check.

Speaking to PEOPLE exclusively after their meeting, LeShay (who doesn’t remember much from the actual rescue), said that what Maroney told her “really means a lot.” Her mother, Shawntrell Brown, said, “I remember Mike was a nice man then, and he’s such a nice man now.”

They both are beautiful!!

His true name to many is the Abyss because he is PJ INDOC instructor. The trainees bestowed this name on him for his ability to gator roll, twist/turn, hit, jab, and take you deep while doing water-con.

Correction on the "Air Force Green Beret" comment above, PJs Are combat medics but with some crazy life saving skills. They are masters of the water, and can free fall along with any unit they might be attached to, maybe JSOC, SEALs, or the 75th ect. Pararescue - "so that others may live"

I knew the Abyss and he is a real life Angel or Beast. Depends on if you're a CONE or not.

Dammit. This ruined my perfectly awful mood today.

That man holds the secret recipe on how NOT to age!!!

Fuk u cuttin up onions up in this bitch for.

They first reunited two years ago, but she recently decided to join the military herself and invite him to the military ball.

PJs are some bad dudes.

If I was ever really in deep cack I can't think of someone else I'd rather have coming to save my bacon!!

It's an elite force of the air force, not THE elite force of the Air Force, and they're less like green berets than combat medics.

I'm sure being reminded of why he does what he does was a huge morale booster.

They are very highly trained but they are much closer to medics than operators. I'm not discrediting them in any way because I could never do what they do but comparing them to Devgru, Army Special Forces or Marine Raiders is not fair because it's a different ball game.

Source: Actually spent some time with some PJ's in Iraq when I was with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. Super cool guys.

"That others may live" is the motto, I think.

Don't underestimate the power of "exercise" my friend!!

Is there anything Joe Rogan can't do?

A few PJs I know went through indoc while Maroney was there. Said he's one hell of a guy who everybody absolutely hated to be in the pool with but he deserved the respect of every person in whatever room he was in.

Sorry I didn't include you in my original comment (judging by your username) but I explained it in another comment just now. Take care, brother.

While true, pararescue is way more intense than any medic position. I'm not in the military, so I may be missing some things, but pararescue is considered to be on the most badass types of medic/rescue training there is. You basically have to be an expert paramedic, an expert in all forms of rescue (ropes, water, etc.), an expert jumper, and all around badass since you're dumped into areas that you can't otherwise get to.

Combat-wise, its less risky than green beret since most countries won't attack medics, but its still a very real and present threat if you are in enemy territory.

oh, so this is like two years ago?

Mike Maroney

That's... the most movie name I ever heard.

You get jokes

They are extremely underrated by the public and other Armed Forces. I was Air Force at one point, watched them train all the time. It's fucking insane, and it goes on for three years Two years (iirc). Army rangers I believe train for 16 weeks or so, just for a comparison. The Air Force has some of the, if not THE best Elite forces in the world.

Edit: Looked it up, two year training. Still, that is insane. I went through six months +/- and that shit sucked.

Fuck you and cancer to your family.

Hope I helped, have a miserable day.

My motto is "I'll drain your life force, and make you miserable with my constant nagging."

Few corrections to the title. LaShay, is not in the military, she is a high school freshman and is in junior ROTC.

You're both beautiful!

Right pjs may not be considered "tier1" I have no idea. But I do know if the seals or green berets or any special forces unit is taking casualties or in over there heads there calling the mafucking pjs to help.

are you my wife?

No, but Ill get through the feels like I always do. With self deprecation and outward hostility.

What about guys that pretend to be women?

I seriously considered joining them years ago. Its an 80% drop out/fail rate in training. That is about the same as the SEALs. There motto is "That others may live."

What are you basing ANY of this on? Less risky than Green Beret's because most countries won't attack medics? Who do you think we're at war with, fucking Sweden? We're not in any of those countries, dude. And you realize Special Forces/Green Berets HAVE medics. It's the 18D MOS. So what about Special Forces medics? You're telling me it's less risky to be an 18D? And what the fuck is "combat-wise?"

I'm not saying non-military people don't have the right to talk about military shit, but don't act like you've BTDT or you know what's fucking what. "Way more intense" "badass" and "less risky combat-wise" is the kind of uninformed editorializing that really (rightly) makes military shake their heads at civilians. Michael Bay movies don't count as research.

His description was "I wanted to be Airborne, but the Army was full."

That's like becoming a SEAL because the Marine recruiter wasn't in his office.

There's very little trickery involved. Nobody goes into the military without being aware that they might get shot at.

The original picture is super cute considering the circumstances.

I've worked with God knows how many different flavors of drop jockies and space cowboys, so you'll excuse me if the wires get crossed every now and again. "Do No Harm" is the motto of one of the medical corps, seeing as it's a paraphrasing of the Hippocratic Oath.

No need to be hostile.

I have no memory of this photo

Being a "Ranger" and going through Ranger school are two different things. Not everyone that goes through Ranger school is going into a Ranger Bat.

ut oh folks, looks like we have another Rogan denier.

Check your eyes man.

Pararescue - "so that others may live"

My 2nd favorite motto after NROL-39:

"Nothing is beyond our reach"

I am Biased... former Ranger.

Mike Maroney seems like a pretty chill dude.

Very much so, I agree with you.

I think their mission is fantastic and no one quite does what they do better then they do!

I was less thinking of a gigantic firefight and more of hiding while I bleed out and the bad guys are looking for me.

Top man

It sounds like they saved eachother


Well...so much for not tearing up at work today.

Dammit, I have a reputation as a jaded, salty old sailor to maintain here, OP. You are not helping...

...but thank you. Few things make a veteran happier than seeing good young people still volunteering to serve.

Rangers on a rescue? Eh...

Maybe they'll lock down the area while the SEALs perform the extract. Definitely wouldn't wanna use a hammer where a scalpel is required.

No matter what they say!

When I read comments like this I really wonder what kind of person could end up at this point making a comment like this and thinking it's funny or in good taste?

Even if this was to be taken as a joke your not making any effort on the punchline which at the end of the day your not making it as a comedian let alone a human being that I want to have a beer with.

Imagine if we had less people like you in the world making half assed comments and maybe trying to making the world a little better for yourself and those around you?

I agree. Call bullshit on this. Not only is there no trickery involved but I know that lots of non-military paras suffer from PTSD as well and the suicide rate among all paras is very high.

Unless you're running a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen, I can't see how anyone would want homeless people sleeping all over their business.

Probably not. The more physically fit you are, the more likely you are to go outside and do something in the sun, probably with your shirt off. That's what'll age you. If you were fit but stayed indoors all the time, you wouldn't age faster.

Also, it's really genes.

Holy shit that was 12 years ago.


I'm hoping to be!

I'll like to make people that care about me miserable. Wanna date?

In the second picture they look like a completely standard couple. They're both so hard to place on an age scale that if it weren't for the first picture, I'd place them in roughly the same bracket.

Depends on your situation.

If I was a ground pounder in some seriously deep shit, I would want Rangers by my side. They are the best infantry units in the world.

If I was a downed pilot alone behind enemy lines.. the PJ's would be my first choice.

If I was being held hostage and wanted a rescue, I would be looking for SEALS or Rangers.

People don't understand the roles different units play, each has their own specialty; some are direct combat, others are not.

You would want which ever unit fit your situation.

STT's, Combat Contoller, TACP, SOWT, and SOSFS are all the Elite of the Air Force. All those and PJ'S fall under AFSOC and have distinct duties.

I am a Pararescue Failure, tried to become a PJ and quit, and he was an instructor when I was in training. Chill dude indeed, completely insane but chill.

Ah, the old Reddit matchmakeroo.

Nah, usually the more physically fit you are and less body fat you have, the faster your face tends to age, dude's just got kickass genes

I mean, they throw themselves out of a perfectly good aircraft into a disaster zone they cannot control with the hopes of finding someone they can help among the sea of cases that they just have to let go. If that doesn't wear on you, then fuck knows what will.

Yvan eht nioj.

PJs rescue the bad assess. They're elites.

I agree with you, but I think the effect is much more obvious when you're older, say in your 60s and up. When you're middle aged I think being physically fit will make you look younger. Your general complexion tends to be better.

Username checks out

"Those I kill, I do not hate. Those I guard, I do not love."

Absolutely fantastic quote from a source I can never remember.

Everyone has melanin in their skin (that's the pigmentation that causes skin to appear darker).

She's 14 dude, don't be gross.

Grown hair on his head