Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27 – two U.S. military veterans – traveled to Ukraine in April as an ongoing Russian invasion pummeled the country. Now, their families say the men are missing.
According to Military.com, their loved ones are worried that the men have been captured by Russian troops. This month, Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk region sentenced two British men who had been serving in Ukraine’s military to death, Radio Free Europe reported.
The Telegraph has reported that a pair of American volunteers serving in a regular Ukrainian army unit were taken prisoner near the city of Kharkiv, located in eastern Ukraine near Donetsk.
While elected officials have announced support from Drueke and Huynh’s families, the U.S. Department of State said Wednesday it was aware of “unconfirmed reports” of two U.S. citizens captured in Ukraine, per a statement cited by The New York Times.
Both men are from Alabama. Drueke is from Tuscaloosa, Ala., according to Tuscaloosa News, and Huynh is from Trinity, Ala, according to U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R.-Ala.), who his family reached out to.
Military.com said it had confirmed both men did travel to Ukraine in April. At that point, Russian Federation troops had been attacking Ukraine for more than a month.
Drueke’s mother said that her son was part of the Army’s Chemical Corps and served two tours in Iraq. She also said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and did not intend to fight in Ukraine.
“Alex did not reenlist after his second tour in Iraq,” she said. “He came home with severe PTSD, and he has been searching for a purpose in life.”
Instead, he intended to help train Ukrainian soldiers.
“He met up with some other Americans that had been traveling together searching for a unit that could use their expertise in training,” Lois Drueke said. “He was not there to fight. He was just there to train.”
She last spoke to her son via text on June 8, when he said he would be “going dark” for a day or two. That day was also the last day Huynh’s family heard from their son.
Drueke’s mother was contacted by a friend of her son who said he had been on a mission with her Drueke and a soldier called by the codename “Care Bear,” who was later revealed to be Huynh. After the mission, they were the only two who did not return.
Lois Drueke said she was contacted by someone named “Pip,” who Military.com reached out to. The outlet said it could not independently confirm Pip’s claims about the mission, which allegedly occurred June 9.
Aderholt referred to Huynh as “a former U.S. service member,” who “volunteered to go fight with the Ukrainian Army in their current war against Russia.”
If someone takes orders from the Ukrainian military, wears their uniforms, and carries their arms openly, they would be “entitled to full POW treatment under the Geneva Conventions,” Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law Claire Finkelstein told Military.com in an email Wednesday.
LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram