Two Alabama veterans finally return home after being prisoners of war

Two Alabama veterans finally return home after being prisoners of war
Updated: Sep. 24, 2022 at 10:02 PM CDT
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Saturday afternoon marked the final chapter in the saga to bring Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh safely home. The two were greeted with cheers and applause from family and spectators as they finally arrived home safe at the Birmingham International Airport.

Dianna Shaw recalled the moment Bunny Drueke, Alex Drueke’s mom told her nephew would soon be back in Alabama.

“Y’all. I was so excited I dropped the phone, I ran out of the house, I had to run back in to put my shoes on, ran back out, had to run back in to get my car keys, ran back out. I live about seven minutes away. I walked in the door and by that point, they were already being briefed by the State Department,” she said.

Druke and (When) Huynh were held captive overseas since June, taken as prisoners of war. They were released as a part of a prisoner exchange, orchestrated by leaders in Saudi Arabia. Prior to their arrival, Shaw gave an impassioned speech about what it took to bring the veterans home, crediting the media and government officials.

“You stayed on the story. And that kept the pressure up on our government, on the Ukrainian government, and on the Kremlin. And now we know on the Saudi Arabian government. To make sure that this day was possible. You did this. You, the journalists, brought these men home,” Shaw continued.

Darla Black is the mother of Andy Huynh’s fiancée who says she still can’t believe how everything’s come together so quickly.

“It came so suddenly, so unexpectedly, but thrilled. What do you say when your child is happy? That’s all you want in life. And they’re coming home. I’m going to get my boy back, and I’m going to see my girl smiling. She hasn’t done enough smiling for the past three months,” Black said.

Both families say they always maintained hope that the men would be released. But never could they have imagined that it would happen so soon.