AMU Student Launches Social Campaign to #FindKatrinaGirl 10 Years Later

AMU Student Launches Social Campaign to #FindKatrinaGirl 10 Years Later

Master Sgt. Michael Maroney is pictured here with the girl he rescued from Hurricane Katrina. Credit: Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce/Air Force

By Jessica Stasiw
Editor, In Military Education

Since Michael Maroney began his latest social mission, the online world has been abuzz with hope and helping hands for the potential reunion. Around this time each year for the past 10 years he’s been looking for the bright spot from his rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina, this little girl. No, he doesn’t know her name, but her smile and resilience in the face of such tragedy and loss, along with this image, were enough to tie her to his memory. She was only about three or four at the time.

We all remember the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. Many had to restore not only their homes, but they had to rebuild their lives as well. For Maroney, saving the little girl and her family that day made a permanent impression on his life. Her smile and perseverance even after seeing her home and school underwater were uplifting to him. His search for her has spanned over the past decade, and each year around the same time, he puts up the same photo with the same plea, to help him locate the girl that brought light to such a dark event.

See below for the ABC News highlight video.

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What will happen if there’s a reunion?

Maroney knows one thing for sure, and it is that it will start off with a hug for her and her mother. A fellow rescuer was reunited with a girl he saved from the event. At the age of 19 she also joined the military to aide in rescue efforts, because she wanted to do for others what Maroney’s friend had done for her. He is also hoping to start a campaign to raise money for her college fund. He believes that young people need mentors, as well as an education.

Michael’s fulltime job now is in the Air Force. He’s a single father of two active boys, and a lifelong learner currently studying at American Military University. He’s been with the university since 2009. Maroney is committed to his education in legal studies at AMU, and takes one class a semester in order to keep pace with his busy life. Once completed it will be his first bachelor’s degree. His educational journey began in criminal justice—an influence from his parents who work in law enforcement. He joined the Air Force to become a pararescueman. After retiring from the Air Force in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina, he became a civilian pararescue instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

How can you help?

Share Michael’s story with your networks and help the Air Force vet realize his dream to thank the person that pushed him through such a devastating event. If you recognize the little girl you can tweet @AirForceTimes with the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl. Just like her smile and hugs were infectious at the time, so should the persistence be to locate and reunite her with her rescuer.

About the Author

Jessica is a lifelong learner who received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University. She has been in the realm of online education for the past seven years, and has been with AMU for the past six years.



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