Mother of Tuscaloosa man missing in Ukraine speaks out
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Elise Anzaldua
Two Alabama men, one from Tuscaloosa, are missing in Ukraine.
Both retired military members, they volunteered to help Ukrainian soldiers train and fight Russian invaders.
When word broke out of the war in Ukraine, U.S. Army veteran and Tuscaloosa native Alex Drueke told his mother he felt called to be part of it.
Bunny Drueke, his mother, said her son truly loves his country.
“Even though he’s no longer in the military, he says, ‘Momma, I took an oath to protect and defend our country, and that’s for life, whether I’m in the service or not,'” she said.
Her son has been volunteering in Ukraine for the past two months, teaching the Ukrainians how to use the military equipment the U.S. supplied.
Bunny last heard from her son on Wednesday, June 8.
“He wrote and said, ‘I’ll be going dark tomorrow and possibly the next day.’ And I wrote back and said, ‘Stay safe and I love you,’ and he wrote back, ‘Yes ma’am, I love you, too,’ and that was our last communication,” she said.
A phone call five days later told Bunny her son had been on a mission and not returned.
His team later intercepted a Russian communication saying their forces captured two Americans in the area of the fighting. Official sources have not confirmed whether one of them was Drueke.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the missing Alabamians in a Thursday press briefing.
“We can confirm these reports, though we don’t know their whereabouts. We are working very hard to learn more about this, and these Americans that are now missing. Our hearts go out to their families,” she said.
The other man with Drueke was Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh from Lawrence County.
Bunny said she has been in contact with Huynh’s fiance, and they have made a connection over their missing loved ones.
“I’ve been in touch with his fiance, and I do expect an invitation to that wedding because we feel like family now. I don’t want people to forget that there’s two men over there.” she said.
Even with all the uncertainty, Drueke is proud of her son’s sacrifice and hopes he will return home soon.