Two US veterans again in Alabama after Russian captivity in Ukraine

Two US veterans again in Alabama after Russian captivity in Ukraine

Two navy veterans from Alabama who volunteered to defend Ukraine from Russian invaders however had been captured are again house, based on an announcement offered to the Guardian on Sunday.

The assertion from the household of Alex Drueke, 40, mentioned he and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, had been amongst 10 international nationals included in a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia that was mediated by the Saudi Arabian authorities.

After Drueke and Huynh underwent a medical examination and had been cleared to journey, their households organized for the pair to fly commercially from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to New York. From New York they flew to Birmingham, arriving shortly after midday on Saturday, the Drueke household assertion mentioned.

Drueke’s mom, Lois “Bunny” Drueke, and Huynh’s fiancee, Pleasure Black, met the pair in New York and accompanied them house to Alabama.

Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, who has served as a spokesperson for the 2 households, mentioned the 2 males had been “in wonderful spirits”. She offered an image of them enjoyable at a bar in Birmingham, forty first Road Pub & Plane Gross sales.

Shaw mentioned the households would concentrate on the 2 males’s well being earlier than they underwent interviews with US and Ukraine authorities officers “to doc their therapy whereas in captivity”.

An announcement attributed to Huynh mentioned he and Drueke survived in captivity thanks partially to figuring out individuals in Alabama and elsewhere within the US had been praying for them.

“That’s what acquired us via,” the assertion mentioned. “I’ve no regrets about going.”

Huynh mentioned the boys’s captors made them say issues to Russian media that had been insincere.

“Anybody who is aware of us would perceive that wasn’t us,” the assertion mentioned.

Drueke mentioned he wished “to thank everybody who helped safe our freedom”, together with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

“Whether or not you referred to as your congresspeople, instructed a neighbor about us, prayed for us, no matter you probably did, you helped make this potential,” Drueke mentioned.

The assertion from Drueke’s household mentioned his first request upon returning to Alabama was for a beer and a reunion together with his canine, Diesel, a 100lb mastiff. Huynh requested to eat his favourite quick meals and to get a haircut he might showcase at church on Sunday with Black.

Drueke accomplished two excursions of fight with the US military in Iraq – leaving him with post-traumatic stress dysfunction – earlier than going to Ukraine through Poland in April. He taught Ukrainian troopers easy methods to use weapons from different nations of their battle in opposition to the Russian invasion, which started on order of Vladimir Putin in February.

A member of Drueke’s unit referred to as his mom and instructed her her son and Huynh had been captured throughout a gunfight on 9 June, north of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis.

Drueke and Huynh, who served with the US marines, had been taken to a detention heart within the Ukrainian metropolis of Donetsk, which has been beneath Russian management.

They later appeared in Russian media clips, Huynh purporting to be in opposition to conflict and Drueke describing how he surrendered with out firing a shot.

The assertion from Shaw mentioned Drueke and Huynh’s households “will proceed to advocate for assist for Ukraine”.

“If the democracy of Ukraine falls to Russian dictatorship, then free Europe is in peril, and america may very well be too,” the assertion mentioned.

US officers together with Joe Biden have discouraged Individuals from volunteering to defend Ukraine. Whereas the US helps Ukraine by offering billions of {dollars} in weapons and different sources, officers have warned they’re restricted of their capability to assist US residents in instances the place issues go improper there.

Many US nationals have nonetheless travelled to Ukraine. A handful have been killed.

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