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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – A teenager was escorted to her JROTC ball by the man who saved her more than 11 years ago after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her hometown.

A photo of a young LaShay Brown embracing Master Sgt. Mike Maroney on Sept. 6 2005 has gained internet fame, after Maroney launched a social media campaign to find the girl in 2015. The photo captured LaShay embracing Maroney after he rescued her and her family from the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

Maroney was battling PTSD at the time, and carried the photograph in his wallet while on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to help him through the tough times.

The two reunited on “The Real” in September 2015, 10 years after that iconic photo was taken.

“You rescued me more than I rescued you,” Maroney told her on the show.

The two have remained in touch ever since. LaShay is now 14 years old and lives in Mississippi.

She was so inspired by her rescuer that she decided to join the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (or JROTC) at her school.

LaShay and Maroney reunited again earlier this month, after she asked him to escort her to the JROTC ball.

“It would be nobody else that could bring me here, and it would be more special to him,” LaShay told WLOX.

Maroney is proud of LaShay’s decision to join the JROTC and looks forward to being by her side for her future accomplishments.

“I see great things. She’s got a good future, and I’m looking forward to seeing her, President of the United States,” said Maroney.

Air Force veteran who rescued “Katrina Girl” years ago escorts her to high school JROTC ball
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