Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces arrived Friday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after their release by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange.
“We’re looking forward to spending time with family and we’ll be in touch with the media soon,” Alex Drueke said after arriving at the airport with Andy Huynh at around noon. “Happy to be home.”
Drueke, 40, and Huynh, 27, went missing in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border on June 9. They had traveled to Ukraine on their own and bonded over their shared home state.
Their families announced their release Wednesday in a joint statement from Dianna Shaw, an aunt of Drueke.
Saudi Arabia brokered the exchange that granted their release. The Saudi embassy released a statement Wednesday saying it helped secure the release of 10 prisoners from Morocco, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Croatia. Shaw confirmed that Drueke and Huynh were part of the group.
Drueke and Huynh flew to New York from Saudi Arabia. Shaw said in an email that Druke’s mother and Huynh’s fiancé would fly to New York to meet the men later Friday and that all four would then travel to Alabama on Saturday.