ALABAMA (WHNT) — Two Alabama veterans who were held captive in Ukraine after volunteering to help fight are back in the United States.
Congressman Robert Aderholt confirmed that Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh are now “officially back on American soil.”
Bunny Drueke, the mother of Alex Drueke says when the men were told on Wednesday that they were going home, they couldn’t believe that they were being freed.
She told News 19 that she received a call from Saudi Arabia and was in shock when she finally heard her son’s voice over the phone.
“First of all, I didn’t expect to hear from them, and I certainly didn’t expect to get a call from Saudi Arabia. I don’t know anyone from Saudi Arabia, but I took the call anyway,” said Bunny.
At the other end was her son Alex, whom she hadn’t heard anything related to his capture in over a month. Huynh and Drueke were among ten prisoners that were released after the Saudi Prince helped to negotiate a prisoner-of-war exchange between Russia and Ukraine.
Huynh of Trinity is the son of Vietnamese immigrants and had served as a U.S. Marines for four years and had been a student at Calhoun Community College. Huynh left for Ukraine before Drueke in early April to fight against Russian forces.
“He wanted to go and help these people because they were really in need of help, especially when the call was put out for from President Volodymyr Zelensky asking for help from volunteers. Having our prayers and our time with the lord was just so instrumental in all of this.” said Joy Black, the fiancée of Huynh.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Crown Prince and the Saudi government negotiated the release of the foreign fighters.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said ten prisoners of war from Croatia, Morocco, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States were released to them as part of an exchange between Russia and Ukraine.
The families of both men recently spoke with News 19 about the struggle over the past months as they have tried coping and working to free both men.
Both Huynh and Drueke will be arriving back in Alabama together before noon on Saturday at Birmingham airport.