Report: 'Katrina Girl' found, airman to reunite with girl he sav - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Report: 'Katrina Girl' found, airman to reunite with girl he saved in New Orleans

Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney hopes to find the girl in this picture. (Source: Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce) Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney hopes to find the girl in this picture. (Source: Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

It started with an iconic photo. Former Air Force Master Sergeant Mike Maroney was photographed hugging an adorable, pigtailed girl who he saved during Hurricane Katrina.

Maroney, who participated in pararescues during the storm, said he vividly remembers pulling a little girl and her six family members off of a New Orleans rooftop. The photograph was taken by Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce, but Maroney never got the little girl's name.

Maroney called it a brief moment of joy in what felt like a hopeless mission

The image went viral, appearing in ad campaigns and Air Force brochures. Maroney had been searching for the girl ever since, sparking a nationwide search for the young girl. 

After years of searching, it appears Maroney has finally found her. PEOPLE Magazine reports that her name is LeShay Brown. She is now 13-years-old and lives in Waveland, Mississippi. The pair will reunite in New Orleans later this month, the magazine reports.

PEOPLE credits a hashtag for the reunion. The #FindKatrinaGirl campaign was launched in February 2015. After the photo received thousands of shares around the nation, it finally made its way to Waveland.

"The whole neighborhood told us they saw LeShay on the news and everybody told us someone was looking for her," Shawntrell Brown, the girl’s mother, told PEOPLE Magazine.

Brown reached out to Maroney and the two plan to meet in New Orleans sometime in September. 

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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