TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A military veteran who grew up in Tuscaloosa is believed to have been captured by Russian forces after disappearing in Ukraine last week.

Drueke and Andy Huynh were allegedly captured during a failed operation outside Kharviv last week. Huynh, 27, is from California, but had been living in Trinity, Alabama. The pair are believed to be the first two American prisoners of war in the Ukrainian conflict with Russia.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Drueke and Huynh had been traveling with a 10-man Ukrainian army unit as volunteers and were allegedly captured outside Kharviv.

“We were out on a mission and the whole thing went absolutely crazy with bad intel,” a source told the Telegraph. “We were told the town was clear, when it turned out the Russians were already assaulting it.

During the “fog of war” where one Russian tank was hit, Drueke and Huynh were not seen again.

Drueke, 39, grew up in Tuscaloosa. Service had always been a big part of his family’s history. His grandfather, Jack Cole Brown, was a second lieutenant with the 1901st Engineer Aviation Battalion in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and retired. He then spent 32 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring as a colonel. His grandmother, Lillian Brown, had worked in the War Department in Washington during WWII.

Between 2002 and 2010, Drueke was a staff sergeant in the Army, spending two tours in Iraq.

Drueke first left in mid-April to help Ukrainian forces against Russia.

“When Russia invaded Ukraine, Alex immediately told me he wanted to go use his skills to train Ukrainians in how to operate American weaponry,” Drueke’s mother, Bunny, said in a statement. “He isn’t married, he doesn’t have kids, and he has the training and the experience. He felt it was his duty to help defend democracy, wherever needed.”

The last time Bunny spoke to her son on the phone was June 5. On June 8, she received a text from him that he would be “going dark,” meaning he would be out of communication. On June 13, she received a phone call from a member of Drueke’s platoon to let her know about her son’s disappearance.

The Drueke family said Rep. Terri Sewell and Sen. Richard Shelby’s office have assisted them in
contacting the State Department, the U.S. Embassy of Ukraine and the International Red Cross.