US veterans captured by Russian forces return to Alabama

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Two U.S. army veterans who have been combating alongside Ukrainian forces and disappeared have formally made it house to Alabama after a prisoner alternate with Russian-backed separatists. 

Alex Drueke, 40, and Andy Huynh, 27, landed on the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Worldwide Airport in Birmingham on Saturday. The pair had gone lacking June 9 within the Kharkiv area of northeastern Ukraine close to the Russian border, and have been launched as a part of a prisoner alternate. 

“Surreal. I nonetheless have chill bumps,” an aunt of Drueke, Dianna Shaw, mentioned. “I all the time imagined at the present time. I all the time held not simply hope however perception on this day. However I believed it was going to be two or three years from now at greatest.

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Andy Huynh, far left, and Alex Drueke, proper, are seen leaving Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Worldwide Airport in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The U.S. army veterans disappeared three months in the past whereas combating Russia with Ukrainian forces. They have been launched earlier this week by Russian-backed separatists as a part of a prisoner alternate.
(AP Picture/Kim Chandler)

The households of the 2 males introduced their launch on Wednesday. The pair had beforehand landed at New York Metropolis’s John F. Kennedy Airport earlier than reaching Alabama. They have been among the many 10 prisoners launched by Russian-backed separatists after a prisoner alternate mediated by Saudi Arabia.

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American's Andy Huynh, right, and Alex Drueke, left, chat as they arrive at the TWA Hotel on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in New York. The two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces were among 10 prisoners, including five British nationals, released this week by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange mediated by Saudi Arabia. 

American’s Andy Huynh, proper, and Alex Drueke, left, chat as they arrive on the TWA Resort on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in New York. The 2 U.S. army veterans who disappeared three months in the past whereas combating Russia with Ukrainian forces have been amongst 10 prisoners, together with 5 British nationals, launched this week by Russian-backed separatists as a part of a prisoner alternate mediated by Saudi Arabia. 
(AP Picture/Andres Kudack)

“There are prisoners of conflict who’ve been held for months and years. There are individuals who have been detained wrongfully for years and for this to come back about in three months is, simply, unimaginable to me,” Shaw added. “Though I’m dwelling it, it feels unimaginable, and I don’t need individuals to neglect all of the Ukrainians who’re nonetheless being held.”

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Andy Huynh, left, and Alex Drueke, far right, are seen hugging their loved ones after arriving at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The U.S. military veterans disappeared three months ago while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces. They were released earlier this week by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange.

Andy Huynh, left, and Alex Drueke, far proper, are seen hugging their family members after arriving at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Worldwide Airport in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The U.S. army veterans disappeared three months in the past whereas combating Russia with Ukrainian forces. They have been launched earlier this week by Russian-backed separatists as a part of a prisoner alternate.
(AP Picture/Kim Chandler)

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The pair had traveled to Ukraine on their very own to battle alongside Ukrainian forces in opposition to Russia. 

The Related Press contributed to this report. 

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