Two Americans held captive by Russian forces return to US with help of Tampa nonprofit

Two Americans, who were held captive by Russian forces for days in Ukraine, are back home in the US thanks to the help of a Tampa-based nonprofit. 

Project Dynamo's founder Bryan Stern flew back to Tampa Wednesday with American citizens Kirillo Alexandrov and Terry Gateley. 

"I’m so happy. I can’t wait to go see my mother," said Alexandrov, who is from Detroit, Michigan.

Stern said every rescue is personal to him, that was no different with Gateley and Alexandrov.

"We have a number of Americans that we’re still trying to get out in both war zones, in Afghanistan and Ukraine in both," said Stern. "If you have an American passport and if you’re in the [Russian] occupied area, you’re under arrest. That is the crime. That is the crime that is committed."

Project Dynamo has rescued thousands of civilians including Americans and pre-mature babies from war-torn Ukraine. Alexandrov said Russian forces captured him and his family in March, accusing him of being a spy.

RELATED: American citizen rescued by Tampa group after being held hostage in Ukraine by Russian forces

"I was kidnapped first, then tied up and tortured and was left in a closet," said Alexandrov, who said they stole his belongings and U.S. passport. "People close to me were raped, [there were] mock executions."

After 37 days in captivity, Stern said he schemed to get Alexandrov out and reunited him with his mother and stepfather.

"Kirillo [Alexandrov] is an escaped fugitive as we speak from Russian justice. He was not released. We stole him. We took him using guile and some ruse and some tactics," said Stern.

Gateley, a Christian missionary from Texas, was arrested and tortured for eight days before Stern rescued him earlier this month.

Now, both men are safe on U.S. soil after unimaginable experiences.

"I still haven’t processed it. I’m hoping I go to sleep and don’t wake up in that closet," said Alexandrov.

Project Dynamo’s founder said he hopes their stories will convince others that the war in Ukraine impacts Americans too. He said they are a donor-funded operation, and they’ve been able to rescue about 800 Americans so far.