A U.S. Air Force veteran is asking for the public's help in finding a little girl he helped save after Hurricane Katrina.
Then-Sgt. Mike Maroney was working as a pararescueman when the storm devastated New Orleans in 2005, the Air Force Times reported.
Maroney had been in the city for seven days trying to rescue people from the floodwaters when his team found the little girl and her six other family members.
The team rescued the family, and Maroney was struck by the girl's resilience. As they flew in a helicopter to safety, the child comforted her crying mother.
"It's OK," she said, according to the Air Force Times. "We're safe. Don't worry."
When they arrived at the airport, the child threw her arms around Maroney's neck.
Maroney told the Air Force Times that as a father of two himself, the girl stuck with him.
"If I never do anything else again, that hug and that smile made it all worthwhile," he said.
The moment was captured by an Air Force photographer, and it soon became an iconic image of the storm.
The photo was featured on promotional materials and even on military coins, the Air Force Times reported.
In the years since, Maroney, who is now retired, has not been able to forget the little girl.
He said he has shared her image online and even reached out to Oprah, hoping to find her to see how she is doing. But he has never had any luck.
The Air Force Times is now trying to help Maroney find the girl using the hashtag #FindKatrinaKid.
Maroney thanked the newspaper for its support on Instagram, writing "wow."
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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