Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh are veterans of the United States armed forces. USA originally from Alabama, so it was natural for them to form a bond once they met in Ukrainewhere each one traveled on their own with the intention of helping to defend democracy against the Russian invaders.
“They became good friends” Dianna Shaw, Drueke’s aunt, said in an interview Thursday.
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Both are now missing after their group was attacked in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, on June 9, leaving loved ones at home anxiously awaiting information on their whereabouts. The two families are in contact.
“The waiting is the hard part, but we always knew this was a possibility.” Shaw stated.
The US State Department said it is investigating unconfirmed reports that Russian forces or Russian-backed separatist forces have captured two US citizens and possibly a third. If true, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began.
Shaw said it’s possible the two are simply flying under the radar. He noted that Drueke, 39, had extensive training and experience in Iraq, while Huynh, 27, served four years in the US Marine Corps.
“They know how to evade”said. “They could be doing just that.”
Russia has not confirmed any information about any of the men. Donetsk People’s Republic President Denis Pushilin stated on Thursday that “so far, I don’t have such information and cannot comment,” according to the Interfax news agency. Pushilin spoke while he was attending the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.
Huynh’s fiancée, Joy Black, said she received a message from a soldier telling her that both men had missed their meeting point and were in an area that was hit “very hard.” In an interview with WAAY-TV, Black added that she ran into her mother’s room and burst into bed crying.
It is not known how many Americans have traveled abroad to help Ukraine since the fighting began in February, but it is believed to number in the hundreds, if not more.