SA vet searches for girl he rescued after Hurricane Katrina

#FindKatrinaGirl trending across globe in hopes of being reunited

SAN ANTONIO – A U.S. Air Force veteran has been on a decade-long search to find the little girl pictured in an iconic photo taken during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Mike Maroney was called in to help those stranded in the floodwaters following Katrina. He said he made the rescue a few days after the storm, and distinctly remembers the little girl he rescued.

“I went to pick her up, to take her off the helicopter to help her out, and she wrapped me up in that hug, and I just stopped,” Maroney said.  “That smile on my face is pure bliss. It touched my heart.”

Maroney described that particular day as a difficult one. After taking part in several missions and feeling ill from swallowing water during a previous rescue he came across the young girl and her family. Maroney said his spirits were lifted.

“I find that when I'm rescuing people, if I smile and I show them that I'm not scared, they're generally not scared,” Maroney said. 

When they arrived at the New Orleans International Airport the little girl jumped into his arms, and at that exact moment the photo was captured.

Since then, Maroney has been on a quest to find that girl, who is probably 13 or 14 years old to see if she’s OK.

“Once a year on the anniversary, I put it out on Facebook or on Instagram,” Maroney said. “I've never heard anything.”

The photo has since gone viral and is trending all over the world as #FindKatrinaGirl.

Maroney is now an instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and hopes he will one day be reunited with the little girl who brightened up such a horrific day.


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