‘Katrina Girl’ rescued by Air Force para-rescuer to follow him into military service

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.
U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce
Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce)

When then-Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney received a tight hug and brilliant smile from a 3-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor whom he plucked from a rooftop with her family, he expected that he would never see her again. 

Nearly 12 years after the sweltering September 2005 day that he said goodbye to the grateful child, they have forged a bond so strong that the girl, LaShay Brown, plans to follow Maroney’s footsteps into the military. 

LaShay, 14, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, also had Maroney escort her to her JROTC ball Saturday night at Bay High School. 

“It would be nobody else that could bring me here, and it would be more special to him,” LaShay told WLOX in Biloxi

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Maroney credits that long-ago hug from LaShay with “rescuing him.” The para-rescuer, who was battling PTSD at the time, was a week into his rescue mission in New Orleans when he was lowered from a helicopter onto a roof where two parents and five children, including LaShay, had been stranded for days. 

Maroney, now a staff sergeant, recalled the rescue in 2015 for the Air Force Times, which was among dozens of publications that helped him find the little girl whose grin had stayed with him for a decade. The girl, whose name he never got, seemed fearless that day, he told the Times. 

As her mother cried on the helicopter, LaShay rubbed her back to comfort her. 

“It’s OK,” Maroney recalled her telling her mother. “We’re safe. Don’t worry.”

When the helicopter dropped off the family at the airport, which was being used as a staging area for evacuees to be moved out of the broken city, LaShay wrapped her arms around Maroney’s neck and hugged him in a moment captured by an Air Force photographer. 

That photo, which ended up on everything from military coins to Burger King place mats, represented for many the strength and resilience of Katrina survivors. It made its way into Mahoney’s heart, and it accompanied him on subsequent tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said it gave him hope during difficult moments. 

“If not for her hug and smile that day, my life would probably be a lot different,” Mahoney told WLOX

As the 10th anniversary of the deadly storm approached in 2015, Mahoney, who had since become a master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, began trying to find the little girl. Thanks to a viral campaign people called #FindKatrinaGirl, he and LaShay were reunited on an episode of the television show “The Real.” 

Since then, Mahoney has become close to LaShay and her family. His encouragement led her to join the JROTC at school, so it was natural for her to ask him to escort her to the ball. 

“I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family,” Mahoney told People last week. “They mean as much to me as my own.”

His guidance also led to LaShay’s decision to join the military after graduation. Maroney supports that decision, he told People. 

“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” Maroney said. “I think she understands service, and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”

Charlie Daniels compares Confederate statue removal to ISIS' actions

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 6:33 AM

Robert E. Lee Never Wanted Confederate Monuments Built

Charlie Daniels has always been outspoken about his political beliefs. So it comes as no surprise that he is sharing his opinions on the recent movement to remove Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces in the U.S.

>> Watch the interview here

In a new interview with cable network Newsmax TV, the 80-year-old country music icon was asked whether or not he thought Confederate statues should be taken down.

>> On Rare Country: Blake Shelton weighs in on the Charlottesville tragedy

He simply answered, “No.”

“If you don’t like it, don’t look at it,” Daniels explained. “I walk past movie posters that I don’t like. There’s all kinds of symbolism in this country that I don’t like, but I’m not going to go tear them down. I just don’t look at them. These statues aren’t preaching or shouting out some kind of crazy epithets or something. They’re just sitting there. So just turn around and don’t look at them.”

>> There are hundreds of Confederate monuments, not just in the South

Daniels, who seemed more concerned with preserving the history and culture of America, also compared the current debate over the removal of Confederate statues to situations going on with ISIS.

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“There were pieces of history that they didn’t like. [So] they were taking them down,” he said before echoing words that President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet, “Where does it stop? Is it going to be Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, or are we headed into Jefferson, Washington, who were both slave owners? How deep into history are we going to go?

“You don’t have to condone what happened in the Civil War,” he added, “but they’re statues of people who are part of our history.”

>> On Rare Country: Charlie Daniels honors America with his latest video

Plans to remove several Confederate statues around the U.S. come just days after a white nationalist rally to protect a Statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly. According to CNN, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama are just some of the many states pushing to remove Confederate monuments.

Charles Barkley offers brutally honest take on Confederate statue debate

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 7:55 AM

Robert E. Lee Never Wanted Confederate Monuments Built

Former basketball star Charles Barkley recently weighed in on an argument that has the entire nation riled up: the removal of Confederate statues.

>> Watch the interview here

“I’m not going to waste my time worrying about these Confederate statues. ... I’m going to keep doing great things, No. 1 in the black community because I’m black,” Barkley said in an interview with Rick Karle of WBRC.

>> Charlie Daniels compares Confederate statue removal to ISIS' actions

He continued: “I’m not going to waste my time worrying about a neo-Nazi who’s going to hate me no matter what.”

>> There are hundreds of Confederate monuments, not just in the South

When asked if the best option is to leave the statues up and ignore them, Barkley answered, “I’ve always ignored them. I’m 54 years old; I’ve never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most black people, to be honest, they haven’t thought a day in their life about those stupid statues.”

In an interview, basketball superstar Charles Barkley called pushing for the removal of Confederate statues "wasted energy." http://bit.ly/2x0lmmJ

Posted by Fox News on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Barkley has weighed in before on the Confederate statue and flag debate. In 2004, he said he was on his way to a NASCAR race and turned around when he saw 10 Confederate flags.

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Barkley was a star player with the Philadelphia 76ers and then with the Phoenix Suns, where he earned the NBA Most Valuable Player award.

ESPN's Robert Lee pulled from Virginia game because of his name, report says

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 4:44 AM

Robert E. Lee Never Wanted Confederate Monuments Built

ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee was scheduled to call an upcoming University of Virginia football game, but in light of recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the network has pulled him from that assignment because of the similarity between his name and that of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

>> Charles Barkley offers brutally honest take on Confederate statue debate

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch released ESPN’s statement on the situation, saying it was Lee’s decision to request a different assignment:

>> See the tweet here

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Lee’s decision to request a change of assignment comes on the heels of recent protests in Charlottesville, in which a counter protester, Heather Heyer, was allegedly killed by a white supremacist.

USS John S. McCain collision: Commander of Navy's 7th Fleet dismissed

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 12:58 AM
Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 4:18 AM

USS John S. McCain Collides With Tanker, 10 Sailors Missing

The commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet has been dismissed following the USS John S. McCain collision and other recent ship accidents, The Associated Press reported early Wednesday.

>> Navy plans operation pause, calls for review of collisions in the Pacific

>> 10 sailors missing after USS John S. McCain collides with tanker

>> USS John S. McCain collision: Remains found during search for missing sailors

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