Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh back on American soil, according to U.S. Rep.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Two Alabama men captured by Russian forces are free after spending 104 days in captivity.
As of Friday at 11:39 a.m. reps from the Office of Rep. Robert B. Aderholt tell us Andy and Alex are now officially back on American soil.
The state department says Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh were part of a negotiated prisoner exchange.
“He said I’m free and I just kept saying, ‘Free? You’re free?’” said Bunny Drueke, the mother of Alex Drueke. “I just couldn’t comprehend it. It’s still hard to believe now. It was just really, really exciting!”
Alex and Andy were serving with the Ukraine Army as volunteers when they were captured and held as prisoners of war by Russian forces for months.
“It had been about six weeks since the last call that he was allowed to make in captivity,” said Dianna Shaw, the aunt of Alex Drueke. “He just confirmed, ‘Yes, I’m fine. I’m OK. I can’t wait to see everybody. How’s my dog Diesel?’”
The two women say the call came seemingly out of nowhere.
“When I got that call I looked at the phone and thought, ‘I don’t know anyone in Saudi Arabia, but what the heck? I’ll just go ahead and take it!” said Bunny.
The best news possible was waiting on the other end of the line.
They say a woman with the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia asked Bunny several questions in order to confirm she was his mother. The woman then put Alex Drueke on the phone.
“I said, ‘Alex?’” explained Bunny. “He said ‘Hi mama. It’s your favorite child’ and I knew it was Alex because that’s a joke between him and his three siblings. He didn’t talk long. He sounded strong and he sounded happy.”
She went on to say the moment was something they were praying for: “I knew there were so many people working behind the scenes to make this happen and suddenly, it happened!”
The family doesn’t know arrangements yet on how or when they are going to get the men home, but they’re thankful to be closer to having them on Alabama soil.
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