Local veterans host lunch for former prisoner of war Alex Drueke

This year, Veterans Day is extra meaningful to former prisoner of war Alex Drueke.  Drueke joined his family and other veterans for a special meal to say thank you for his sacrifice.

Drueke and fellow Alabamian Andy Huynh went to Ukraine earlier this year to help train Ukrainian soldiers. In June, they were captured by Russian forces and tortured for 105 days before they were released in a prisoner exchange.

Back at home in Tuscaloosa Friday, local veterans groups treated Drueke and his family to a Veterans Day lunch at Logan’s Roadhouse.

“I am already a veteran from the war in Iraq,” Drueke said. “So this is already a special day for me. This is such an honor to be treated to a meal and say thank you. I woke up this morning to a bunch of texts and Facebook notifications, both from people in America saying Happy Veterans Day for serving America, but I made a few Ukrainian friends who were saying thank you for serving our country as well.”

Most everyone opted for burgers or the famous buttered rolls, but Alex said he had enough bread in captivity to last him a lifetime. So, the other vets thought it was only fitting that he be served the biggest steak on the menu.

“There were a lot of random beatings. They electrocuted me, put us in stress positions, and even fired rifles next to our bodies,” Drueke said while recalling the 105 days of torture.

Drueke said he still has no regrets when it comes to his service and is thankful for the continued warm homecoming.

“Zero regrets. I felt compelled to serve our country and I felt compelled to go over and help Ukraine,” Drueke said. “I am glad I went. I gained a lot of good experiences along with the bad stuff. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about Ukraine.  I learned it’s a beautiful country with wonderful people. I am happy I could help them and I hope that I can keep helping them. I hope whatever I do, I can put some good back into the world.”

Drueke told WVUA 23 that he is spending his days focused on healing physically and mentally and is still getting used to his “new normal.”

 

-kn

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