12 Years Later, Hurricane Katrina Victim Takes The US Airforceman That Rescued Her First Military Ball

So adorable we could cry, but we won't... or maybe we already have.

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They say one picture is worth a thousand words, but for the US Air Forceman and little girl pictured below, it's priceless.

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY AIRMAN 1ST CLASS VERONICA PIERCE
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Taken in 2005, the beaming 3-year-old, LaShay Brown, had just been rescued from her flooded family home by an Air Force para-rescuer.

The photo was to become an iconic symbol. A rare moment of joy after in the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The chance encounter that saved LaShay's life, also had a lasting impact on her helicopter hero too. Mike Maroney explained during their first reunion, "Your hug, it helped me through the hard days, and the rough days. You rescued me more than I rescued you."

Telling People, Mike said that her hug 'recharged me and gave me a little bit of a silver lining and some hope that kept me going through rough times' and that 'it couldn't have come at a more important moment.'

Before the reunion, Maroney had been carrying the photograph around with him on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, while dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In 2015, he launched a social campaign to find LaShay with the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl.

Fast forward a social phenomenon and more than 12 years since their first encounter - the Air Force veteran took the toddler he rescued to her first military ball, after she joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a programme sponsored by the US Armed Forces, at Bay High School in Waveland, Mississippi, inspired by Mike.

"I'm going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family. They means as much to me as my own," he told People.

Guess who I am with at the Spurs game!! Go Spurs Go!! #KATRINAGIRL : )

A post shared by Mike M (@mahroney) on

Maroney will be retiring from the Air Force later this month, while LaShay will be joining the military having been inspired by the military man that rescued her.

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