2 U.S. military veterans reported missing in Ukraine

2 U.S. military veterans reported missing in Ukraine
Lois Drueke, the mother of one of the men, told NBC News she got a phone call Monday from one of his friends, who told her that a mission had gone bad.

Two U.S. veterans who volunteered to join the effort against Russia in Ukraine have been reported missing by their families.

Alabama residents Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh have not been heard from since last week, the families said Wednesday, and relatives said they are worried about what may have happened to the duo.

Drueke, 39, is a former U.S. Army service member from Tuscaloosa who served two tours in Iraq, his family told NBC News.

His mother, Lois, said she got a phone call Monday from one of his friends, who told her that a mission had gone bad and that two men, including her son, did not return.

Alex Drueke.
Alex Drueke. Facebook
She said that in their most recent communication last Wednesday, her son wrote to her that he would be going “dark” for a few days. She wrote back: “Stay safe. And I love you,” to which he replied: “I love you too,” she said, fighting back tears. She has not heard from him since.

Lois Drueke said her son was not in Ukraine to fight, but was there in more of an advisory capacity as a “civilian with army training,” so she did not know why he was included on the mission.

“When he saw what was happening in Ukraine, he said, ‘Mom, I have to go and help train those soldiers so that Putin can’t get the confidence that he can just roll over Ukraine and other countries, because eventually he’ll tackle us,’” she said.

“’And I feel like if we can stop him there in Ukraine, then I’m helping to keep Americans safe,’” Lois Drueke recalled her son saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She expressed fears the pair had been captured but said that had not been verified. NBC News reached out to the Kremlin, as well as to the Russian defense and foreign ministries for comment.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Washington had not yet contacted the ministry in connection with the media reports about “two American mercenaries detained in the suburbs of Kharkiv,” the state news agency Ria reported.

Lois Drueke said the family doesn’t know if Drueke was captured, and it’s possible he and Huynh were still “out there evading the enemy.” The possibility that he is in Russian custody has her worried, she said, but she knew Ukraine and the U.S. government were actively searching for the pair.

“If worst comes to worst, I know he was doing something he truly believed was good and noble,” she said, her voice breaking again.

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Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., tweeted late Wednesday that Drueke’s mother reached out to her office after losing contact with her son, and that they are doing “everything in our power to assist in locating him and finding answers for his family.”

Meanwhile, Huynh’s family reached out to Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., he said in a statement Wednesday. Aderholt said the family told him they had not been in contact with Huynh since June 8 when he was in the area of the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine. He said Huynh, 27, volunteered to go fight with the Ukrainian army against Russia. “As you can imagine, his loved ones are very concerned about him,” Aderholt said.

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