Two American veterans held captive by means of Russian separatists in Ukraine since June returned to the US on Friday, arriving at JFK Global Airport in a while after midday, a relative of one of the crucial males instructed USA TODAY.
Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, had been each freed Wednesday as a part of a bigger prisoner trade months after their seize in Ukraine’s Kharkiv area. Each males are from Alabama and are army veterans who sought to assist Ukrainian troops.
The lads would spend time with circle of relatives over day after today or two, mentioned Dianna Shaw, Drueke’s aunt. Drueke’s mom, Bunny Drueke, and Huynh fiancée, Pleasure Black, had been nonetheless en course Friday afternoon after delays in achieving New York, Shaw instructed USA TODAY.
U.S. govt officers assisted in getting the pair safely to a lodge, Shaw mentioned. The households plan to go back by means of car to Alabama once Saturday.
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U.S. Rep Robert Aderholt of Alabama
introduced the lads had returned Friday on Twitter, writing that he had “been knowledgeable that Andy and Alex are again on American soil. Those are indubitably replied prayers!”
This week, Huynh and Drueke had been first transferred to Saudi Arabia, which helped dealer a change with Russian-backed separatists that integrated 8 different prisoners from 4 nations, together with 5 British nationals. Members of the family mentioned the lads went via clinical assessments in Saudi Arabia.
All through a briefing Friday, White Space Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre thanked Saudi Arabia and Turkey for facilitating the trade of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia.
“We look ahead to those U.S. electorate being reunited with their households,” she mentioned.
Jean-Pierre additionally reiterated previous management warnings in regards to the dangers of touring to Ukraine and collaborating in the preventing.
“We proceed to induce American citizens to dedicate their energies towards the numerous different alternatives that exist to assist the rustic of Ukraine and in addition the folk of Ukraine,” she mentioned.
Black, Huynh’s fiancée, instructed USA TODAY previous this week that she was once at paintings when her telephone confirmed an incoming name from Saudi Arabia. She let it move to voicemail. The message? It was once the U.S. Embassy telling her the lads were freed.
Black, 21, mentioned she was once “satisfied for the primary time in like 4 months.”
Shaw mentioned there were no forewarning of the change was once coming.
“I requested Alex the previous day if he knew he was once being freed and he instructed me that they didn’t perceive what was once happening for a number of hours,” Shaw mentioned Friday.
ABOUT THEIR CAPTURE:Two U.S. army veterans felt pressured to battle Russia. They have got been captured in Ukraine.
Huynh and Drueke didn’t know each and every different in Alabama however was buddies in Ukraine, the place they each went to help Ukraine in its struggle with Russia, members of the family have mentioned.
Huynh served as a Marine from 2014 to 2018. Drueke served as a chemical operations specialist within the Military Reserve from 2002 to 2014 and deployed to Kuwait in 2004 and to Iraq in 2008.
Across the time in their seize, two Britons and a Moroccan had been sentenced to demise by means of Russian-backed separatists in japanese Ukraine after prosecutors claimed they had been mercenaries and now not entitled to protections afforded prisoners of struggle.
Chris Kenning is a countrywide information creator. Succeed in him at [email protected] and on Twitter @chris_kenning.