Then Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney hugging three-year-old Lashay Brown after rescuing her in 2005.
Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce—Air Force
By Nolan Feeney
September 2, 2015

A man who worked as a pararescue jumper in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will reunite with the little girl he hugged in a now-iconic photograph.

Mike Maroney, now an Air Force Reservist, received a smiling hug from then-three-year-old Lashay Brown after picking up her and her mother in a helicopter in 2005, People reports. A military photographer took the widely disseminated photo, but Maroney never got Brown’s name. Over the years, he’s tried to find her through social media, but he had no luck—until now.

A 16-year-old named Andrew Goard, who runs an Instagram page honoring pararescue jumpers, became aware of Maroney’s search and launched the #FindKatrinaGirl hashtag earlier this year. When a local news outlet near where Brown now lives in Mississippi picked up the story, neighbors alerted her mother, who finally contacted Maroney. He and Brown plan to meet up later this month.

“I was excited that he was looking for me for such a long time,” Brown, now 13, tells People. After all, she exclaims, “I’ve barely seen any of the pictures!”

[People]

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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