Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh and Alexander John-Robert Drueke were released last month after spending three months in brutal Russian custody.Andy Huynh, left, and Alex Drueke were released in September in the massive Russian-Ukraine prisoner swap. Both were tortured by Russian soldiers and lost 20-30 pounds while in prison.
A pair of American veterans, taken prisoner while fighting for Ukraine, said Russian captors relentlessly tortured them to the point where they “prayed for death,” according to a broadcast interview aired Thursday.
According to nbcnews.com Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, and Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 40, were released last month after spending three months in brutal Russian custody, they told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in their first TV interview since being released.
Even after their release had been secured through back channel Saudi Arabian negotiators, their most harrowing moments came at the end of captivity, the former prisoners said.
Captors tied them up, blindfolded with packing tape, secured bags over their heads and stacked them in back of a truck, the former prisoners said.
“We prayed for death” at that moment, Huynh said. “We just wanted to die. We just wanted it to end.”
The fact they were about to go free didn’t lessen their despair in those final hours of captivity.
“Even if it is an exchange (of prisoners), I don’t care. This just has to stop,” Drueke said.
Huynh added: “We wanted to die. The process to getting free was a very high price.”
The pair didn’t totally understand their ordeal was done until they met with American officials.
“I didn’t fully believe that I was getting released until a U.S. embassy representative said, ‘This is real brother. You are being exchanged. This is real, you are safe,’ ” Huynh said.
Both men said they had no regrets fighting alongside Ukrainians as they fend off Russian invaders.
“I think I’d go back (to Ukraine) in a slightly different capacity,” Drueke said. “I would go back for rebuilding after the war.”
Representatives of the Kremlin could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.