Two US veterans who were released by Russian separatists as part of a prisoner exchange are finally back on American soil after landing in New York City on Friday.
Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh both disappeared three months ago in the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine while fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers against invading Russian forces.
The pair were released to the US embassy in Saudi Arabia before finally touching down at JFK International AIrport around noon.
“We’re looking forward to spending time with family and we’ll be in touch with the media soon,” Drueke told the Associated Press after arriving at the airport with Huynh. “Happy to be home.”
Drueke, 40, and Huynh, 28, had traveled to Ukraine separately to volunteer to fight, but went missing near the Russian border around June 9 and bonded over their shared home state of Alabama.
They were released on Wednesday as part of an exchange brokered by Saudi Arabia along with eight other prisoners from Morocco, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Croatia.
Drueke’s mother and Huynh’s fiancée met the men in New York, according to a statement from the families, and are expected to head home to Alabama on Saturday.