Michael Maroney, a Master Sgt. in the U.S. Air Force, rescued over 140 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One of those people he saved was a 3-year-old girl named LeShay Brown.
An airman caught a picture of the pair after the rescue–the young girl’s smile as she hugged her rescuer taking center stage. “When she wrapped me up with that hug, I just melted, and the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders,” Maroney later told ABC News. “Everything in the world just stopped, and I wasn’t in New Orleans or in the devastation, I was just being hugged by a beautiful little girl.”
And in 2015, he decided to find this girl that he’d rescued so he started a campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl. And find her, he did.
The two were reunited on the BET talk show The Real. “If I can explain to you how important your hug was…that small gesture, it helped me through bad days and dark days,” Maroney said to her. “You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
Watch the video of the reunion here: