Families of missing US military veterans meet with Ukrainian officials

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The families of two Alabama military veterans who went missing in Ukraine this week met virtually with federal government officials and Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova and participated in two U.S.-Ukrainian events to observe the Day of the independence of this country.

Alex Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, went missing after their unit came under heavy fire in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border on 9 June.

“It was wonderful to hear firsthand from the ambassador that Alex and Andy are a priority with all of their POWs,” Drueke’s mother, Bunny Drueke, said after Thursday’s chat with Markarova and six. members of the US State Department.

“She also agreed to help us send a letter to President (Volodymyr) Zelensky thanking him for calling our men heroes and asking him not to forget them.”

Huynh’s fiancée Joy Black said she was happy to tell Markarova why he wanted to help Ukraine, according to a statement from the families.

“It was close to Andy’s heart to see Ukrainian teenagers joining the army to try to protect their homes,” she said. “Andy felt called to help, and so did Alex, and I could tell it touched her.”

Drueke and Huynh were reportedly taken to the Donetsk region. Russia and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic currently control the majority of the region. The United States does not recognize DPR sovereignty or have diplomatic relations with them, forcing Ukraine to lead efforts to free the men.

Neither Russia nor the DPR have confirmed any information about the missing men.

Drueke, an army veteran, served two tours in Iraq while Huynh served four years in the US Marines.

Black and Bunny Drueke also recently attended two Ukrainian-American events in Huntsville and Birmingham to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day.

“The more Ukrainians I meet, the more I understand why Alex fell in love with the people and the place when he arrived there,” Bunny Drueke said. “They love freedom the same way we do in America.”

The families’ statement did not provide any details on the men’s current status.

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