Former soldiers released from Russian captivity, landed on American soil

Former soldiers released from Russian captivity, landed on American soil
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 3:50 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - After three long months, former U.S. soldiers Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh were released from the captivity of Russian-backed forces on Wednesday.

The Alabama natives traveled separately to train Ukrainian forces in the war against Russia and were captured in June.

Bunny Drueke and Huynh’s fiancée, Joy Black were only able to hear from their loved ones briefly throughout their captivity. On Wednesday the two got a call from a foreign county that changed everything.

“I got a call from Saudi Arabia,” Black said. “When do I ever get Saudi Arabia?”

The call was from the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia informing Black that her fiancée was free. The soldier’s release was part of a prison exchange conducted by the Saudi Arabian government.

The two American soldiers were freed along with eight other European soldiers.

“Hearing his voice was so amazing. I can’t really describe how great it was,” Black said. “I just know it’s going to be an amazing moment when I finally get to see him and give him a hug.”

Their flight from Saudi Arabia landed in New York at the JFK Airport on Friday afternoon.

Darla Black, Huynh’s future mother-in-law, says the pair will spend the night in New York. Drueke is expected to arrive in Birmingham at noon on Saturday, there is no definite time for Huynh.

Black and Bunny Drueke formed a close relationship as they went through this rough period together. Black says it was helpful to have someone there going through the same thing.

Both families are ready and excited to get back to a normal life. The Drueke family released this statement when they were freed:

“We are thrilled to announce that Alex and Andy are free. They are safely in the custody of the US embassy in Saudi Arabia and after medical checks and debriefing, they will return to the States. We deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers and especially the close communication and support of our elected officials, Ukrainian Ambassador Markarova, and our members of the US embassies in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia and the US Department of State.”