Monday, March 20, 2017 — Master Sergeant Mike Maroney of the United States Air Force rescued LaShay Brown in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina. He saved her life, and as it turned out, the famous hug she gave him ended up saving his.
Like many proud military personnel who have served the country, Maroney has suffered from PTSD. He revealed that he carried the photo of their hug with him on challenging deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He found strength by returning to the photo and remembering the special moment.
Eventually, he tried to find the girl who changed his life. And finally, a decade after Katrina the two were re-united on the set of “The Real” in September 2015. He told her: “You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
Their renewed bond did not end there. Since then, Mike has visited the Brown’s home and even taught LaShay to swim. They speak on the phone weekly.
Maroney’s encouragement led LaShay to join the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Bay High School in Waveland, Mississippi. Maroney is happy to know that LaShay would like to join the military one day, although she has not yet decided which branch.
She truly adores Mike. And he has been such a positive influence in her life. This past weekend, LaShay brought him with her to the JROTC Ball in Waveland, Mississippi.
Mike is always beaming with a smile when he is with LaShay. He had the following words to say about her:
“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does.” “I think she understands service and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”
With that type of love and support, we know LaShay will go far. And we are so happy that Mike, who will be retiring from the military, has found meaning in being a mentor and role model.