2 US veterans from Alabama reported missing in Ukraine

Jun 15, 2022, 2:19 AM | Updated: Jun 16, 2022, 3:04 am

This photo taken April 6, 2022, in Hartselle, Ala., shows U.S. Marine veteran Andy Tai Huynh, who decided to fight with Ukraine in the war against Russia. Huyhn and another veteran from Alabama haven't been heard from in days according to relatives and are considering missing. (Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily via AP)

(Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily via AP)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Two U.S. veterans from Alabama who were in Ukraine assisting in the war against Russia haven’t been heard from in days and are missing, members of the state’s congressional delegation said Wednesday.

Relatives of Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Trinity and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa have been in contact with both Senate and House offices seeking information about the men’s whereabouts, press aides said.

Rep. Robert Aderholt said Huynh had volunteered to go fight with the Ukrainian army against Russia, but relatives haven’t heard from him since June 8, when he was in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, which is near the Russian border. Huynh and Drueke were together, an aide to Aderholt said.

“As you can imagine, his loved ones are very concerned about him,” Aderholt said in a statement. “My office has placed inquires with both the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation trying to get any information possible.”

Rep. Terri Sewell said Drueke’s mother reached out to her office earlier this week after she lost contact with her son.

The U.S. State Department said it was looking into reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine had captured at least two American citizens. If confirmed, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began Feb. 24.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities,” the department said in a statement emailed to reporters. It declined further comment, citing privacy considerations.

John Kirby, a national security spokesman at the White House, said Wednesday that the administration wasn’t able to confirm the reports about missing Americans.

“We’ll do the best we can to monitor this and see what we can learn about it,” he said.

However, he reiterated his warnings against Americans going to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is not the place for Americans to be traveling,” he said. “If you feel passionate about supporting Ukraine, there’s any number of ways to do that that that are safer and just as effective.”

A court in Donetsk, under separatist control, sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan man to death last week. The Britons and Moroccan were accused of being mercenaries and seeking the violent overthrow of the separatist government in the Donetsk region. The Russian military has said it considers foreigners fighting with Ukraine to be mercenaries and claims they are not protected as combatants under the Geneva Convention.

Huynh’s fiancee, Joy Black, posted publicly on Facebook that his family was in contact with the Drueke family and government officials, and that nothing had been confirmed other than that the two were missing.

“Please keep Andy, and Alex, and all of their loved ones in prayer. We just want them to come home,” she wrote.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the Americans “have enlisted in the Ukrainian army, and thus are afforded legal combatant protections. As such, we expect members of the Legion to be treated in accordance with the Geneva convention.” It was unclear whether Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, had any further information about the men.

He was commenting on a tweet sent earlier Wednesday by Task Force Baguette, a group of former U.S. and French servicemen, saying that two Americans fighting with them were captured a week ago. The group said Ukrainian intelligence confirmed the information.

Early in the war, Ukraine created the International Legion for foreign citizens who wanted to help defend against the Russian invasion.

Huynh spoke to his local newspaper, the Decatur Daily, shortly before flying to Eastern Europe in April.

He explained that he was studying robotics at Calhoun Community College but couldn’t stop thinking about Russia’s invasion.

“I know it wasn’t my problem, but there was that gut feeling that I felt I had to do something,” Huynh told the Decatur Daily. “Two weeks after the war began, it kept eating me up inside and it just felt wrong. I was losing sleep. … All I could think about was the situation in Ukraine.”

He said he decided to fly out once he learned that young Ukrainians were being drafted into service.

“Right when they turned 18, they were forced to enlist in the military to defend their homeland,” Huynh said. “Honestly, that broke my heart. I would say that is probably the moment where I decided that I have to do something.”

According to the newspaper, Huynh enlisted in the Marines when he was 19 and served for four years, though he did not see active combat.

He was born and raised in Orange County, California, to Vietnamese immigrants and moved to northern Alabama two years ago to be closer to his fiancee, the newspaper reported.

___

Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Washington and Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

In this image provided by the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Justice o...
Associated Press

‘Revolutionary’ high court term on abortion, guns and more

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion, guns and religion — a major change in the law in any one of these areas would have made for a fateful Supreme Court term. In its first full term together, the court’s conservative majority ruled in all three and issued other significant decisions limiting the government’s regulatory powers. And it […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 2, Amelia Earhart disappears

Today in History Today is Saturday, July 2, the 183rd day of 2022. There are 182 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 2, 1937, aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first round-the-world flight along the equator. On this date: […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Baby’s father charged in slaying of stroller-pushing NYC mom

NEW YORK (AP) — The ex-boyfriend of a New York City woman shot dead Wednesday as she pushed their infant daughter in a stroller has been arrested and charged with killing her, police said Friday. Slain mother Azsia Johnson’s family identified suspect Isaac Argro as the baby’s father and said he routinely abused Johnson, beating […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge: Sheriff must post bail after anti-harassment order

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The sheriff of Pierce County, Washington, was ordered to post $100,000 bail while he awaits trial on false-reporting charges related to his controversial confrontation last year with a Black newspaper carrier. Judge Jeffrey Jahns on Friday imposed the bail — 10 times the amount requested by prosecutors — during a hearing […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: People getting out of Texas trailer were work crew

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A group of people who were spotted getting in and out of a parked semitrailer in San Antonio were part of a work crew, not a human-smuggling operation, authorities said Friday. Authorities checked the vehicle after someone alerted a deputy constable to it, just days after 53 migrants died when they […]
23 hours ago
Lauren Wright, a Navy spouse whose family was sickened by jet fuel in their tap water, looks over w...
Associated Press

Distrust remains after Navy report on tainted Hawaii water

HONOLULU (AP) — Lauren Wright continues to be leery of the water coming out of the taps in her family’s U.S. Navy home in Hawaii, saying she doesn’t trust that it’s safe. Wright, her sailor husband and their three children ages 8 to 17 were among the thousands of people who were sickened late last […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
2 US veterans from Alabama reported missing in Ukraine