Family says two Americans who fought for Ukraine are missing

Two US veterans who volunteered to fight in Ukraine are missing, their families said on Wednesday.

A man named Alex Drueke, 39, a former US Army sergeant who served two tours in Iraq, his family said in a statement. The other is Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, a former Marine, Darla Black, the mother of Huynh’s fiancé, Joy Black, said in a phone interview.

The US State Department said on Wednesday it was “aware of unconfirmed reports of two US citizens being arrested in Ukraine.”

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”

It has not been confirmed but it seems very likely that Mr. Drueke and Mr. Huynh disappeared together. Mr. Drueke’s family said at the time he was traveling with “another volunteer soldier from the US,” and Ms Black said the two became friends during the war.

According to his family’s statement, Mr. Drueke’s platoon encountered “massive fire” on June 9, prompting all members to back down – except for Mr Drueke and another US volunteer. Claims to continue to scout by foot and drone.

Credit…Via Bunny Drueke

“This could mean they were on the run or it could mean they were caught,” said Drueke’s mother, Bunny Drueke.

The two men, if captured, would be the first known Americans to have been prisoners of the conflict.

The Drueke family was informed of the fighting and the search for the two missing Americans by another member of the platoon on Monday, the family statement said.

“When Russia invaded Ukraine, Alex immediately told me that he wanted to use his skills to train the Ukrainians how to operate American weapons,” Ms. Drueke said. “He is not married, has no children, and he is trained and experienced. He feels it is his duty to help defend democracy, whenever necessary.”

The statement describes Mr Drueke as a hiking enthusiast who, before the war, had lived on family land in rural western Alabama while hoping to plan “a new adventure”. with his Mastiff rescue, Diesel.

In one interview to WAAY-TV, an ABC affiliate in northern Alabama, Huynh, who was identified as living in a small regional city, Hartselle, and from Orange County, California, said he decided to go. traveled to Ukraine and fought after seeing 18 year olds fight for their freedom.

“I knew there was a chance I was going to die,” he said. “I am willing to dedicate my life to what I believe is right.”

Ms. Black said that before coming to Ukraine, Mr. Huynh studied robotics at a local college that Joy also attended. He had been in the Marines for four years, enrolling shortly after graduating from high school.

“Andy didn’t make the easy choice, he made the right choice,” Joy said in a phone interview. “Andy is not there for adventure. He just wanted to help.”

Credit…via Darla Black

Both the Black and Drueke families said they last received word from the men on June 8, when each said they would be out of reach for a few days.

Ms Black said: “Alex’s family became our family. “If anyone understands how my daughter feels right now, it’s her mother Alex, so we all feel connected.”

An Alabama congressional delegation – which includes Senators Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville, as well as Representatives Terri Sewell and Robert Aderholt, who represent men’s counties – is coordinating with the State Department, Ms. Hilary Beard, Sewell’s chief of staff, said. Governor Kay Ivey’s spokesman added that the delegation is also working with the FBI

Since the war began on February 24, an unspecified number of foreigners have volunteered to help Ukraine in a variety of ways, among them hundreds of American veterans who have sought to join the fight. . The State Department reiterated in its statement that US citizens should not travel to Ukraine.

There are no confirmed reports of Americans being captured, and only one American is presumed dead: Willy Joseph Cancel Jr., 22 years old, a former Marine from Kentucky, who was killed on the same day. April 24 or 25 when his unit was overrun by Russian troops. , Mr. Cancel’s uncle, Christopher Cancel, said in a interview with The New York Times.

Western governments and human rights groups have rattle Last week a court in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan man to death to death, accusing them of being mercenaries.

Dave Philipps contribution report.

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