“You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
In 2005 during the horrific onslaught by Hurricane Katrina, Master Sergeant Mike Maroney saved LaShay Brown and her family from the floodwaters. But he had no idea what an impact that rescue would have on his own life.
When Mike had plucked LaShay from danger, she had given him an enormous hug for saving her life. Mike never forgot that hug, or how much it changed his life.
Mike, who was suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder when Katrina struck, took hope and courage from the encounter with the little girl. The photo of the two of them was tucked firmly in his wallet, and he took it with him when he was deployed.
Eventually Mike decided to try and find LaShay, even going so far as to launch a social media campaign in his search. In 2005, they finally met again.
At their meeting on The Real, Mike told LaShay that she had rescued him too, perhaps even more than he had done for her.
Since their reunion, Mike often visits LaShay and her family at their home in Mississippi, and he regularly calls LaShay.
Because of their strong bond, LaShay has even decided she wants to join the military someday, and has joined the pre-training program at her school.
LaShay knows that if she needs any help in her training Mike will be there for her. Mike has also spoken about how proud he is of her, and that he supports her decision.
Mike is retiring from the Air Force this month due to injury. He now engages in motivational speaking about service for young people, as well as helping with training.