US Captives ‘Prayed for Death’ on Brutal Ride From Ukraine

Americans Andy Huynh, right, and Alex Drueke arrive at the TWA Hotel in New York on Sept. 23, 2022 Photo credit AP

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Even after three months of captivity that included execution threats, physical torture, solitary confinement and food deprivation, it was the ride to freedom that nearly broke Alex Drueke, a U.S. military veteran released last week with nine other prisoners who went to help Ukraine fight off Russian invaders.

His hands were bound. His head was covered by a plastic bag, and the packing tape holding it in place was secured so tightly it it caused welts on his forehead. Drueke said he and fellow American prisoner Andy Huynh reached their limit in this state during the transit, which occurred in a series of vehicles from eastern Ukraine to an airport in Russia that was surrounded by armed guards.

“For all we went through and all the times we thought we might die, we accepted that we might die, we were ready to die when it came, that ride was the only time that each of us independently prayed for death just to get it over with,” Drueke told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

“The mental and emotional torture of those last 24 hours in captivity, that was the worst,” he said.

Drueke, 40, is healing: The swelling is going down on his head and he’s trying to regain some of the 13.6 kilograms he figures he lost eating a poor diet. But awful memories remain, and he’s unsure what comes next aside from trying to focus attention on fellow prisoners who remain in Russian hands.

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About Cholo Brooks 13021 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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