Winona mother reunited with son freed from Russian custody

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(ABC 6 News) — A Winona mother is finally reunited with her son after he was freed from Russian custody.

"We had this taken before Tyler left in November for Ukraine," said Tina Hauser pointing to a picture on the mantel.

A picture is worth a thousand words. For one Winona mother, her family pictures are worth everything.

"I looked at that a lot that week that we didn’t hear from him, I’d scroll back through and look at his pictures and messages when I was getting down," she added.

The family photos gave Hauser comfort as her son Tyler Jacob was detained halfway around the world. Three weeks ago, Jacob was taken by Russian forces while fleeing Ukraine. He was taken into custody in Crimea and was jailed for more than a week.

"All I could think about was the wife, the daughter, and my family here," said Jacob, "that was the only thing I was worried about, it was all I was thinking about, I didn’t care about my situation because I knew that they were thinking I was dead."

For the past month and a half, Hauser prayed for her son’s safe return, pleading with U.S. lawmakers for help.

"I didn’t shed any blood for the country, but I did wear the flag on my shoulder and so that felt good that they had my back after everything," Jacob said.

After Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Office and the State Department helped to secure Jacob’s release, he did what any son would do. With his camera rolling, he surprised his mom one month ahead of schedule.

"I was expecting him to video chat because he was like ‘mom lets video chat at 7:30,’ then all of a sudden there was a knock at the door," recalled Hauser, "I looked at my fiance and was like, what? Then I answered the door and then was like, ‘Oh my lord, there stood my son.’"

"I went for that first hug and it was just awesome, then I had to have a second one because I was like, is this real?" chuckled Hauser.

Every moment since has been filled with gratitude. The duo getting back to life and sharing the missing gaps over the past month. And now, they can add another memory and photo to their collection on the mantel. One, capturing the love shared between a mother and her returned son.

The family is still in the process of getting Tyler’s wife and stepdaughter to the U.S. from Ukraine.