Families of captives staying positive at Ukrainian Freedom Festival

Published: Aug. 20, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Saturday marks 72 days since two Alabama veterans were captured by Russian forces while helping Ukraine fight. Their families are remaining optimistic they will return home.

People throughout the Birmingham community came together this weekend to show their support for Ukraine with a festival called Ukrainian Freedom Festival. It was held at Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

“I want you to be reminded we’re all praying for you, praying for your health, praying for your family,” said Scotty Colson, Alabama’s Honorary Consul for Ukraine, to Pastor Fred Ankai-Taylor with Church of the Risen Christ. He joined the event live from Vinnytsia.

“This country is trying to preserve their freedom, their democracy,” said Bunny Drueke. “They’re fighting as hard as they can.”

Bunny is the mother of Alex Drueke, one of the Alabama veterans who was taken captive in Ukraine on June 9, 2022. The other man is Andy Huynh. Alabamians are fighting to get them released from capture.

“I haven’t talked to Alex for about a week, a little over a week,” said Bunny. “His captors allow him to call only when they have a message they want to get out.”

The latest phone call with her son had some good news.

“They had moved he and Andy to a different prison,” she explained. “He said it was more traditional so he has better accommodations, better food, they get to go outside for exercise everyday. Best of all, they’re not in solitary confinement. They’re together.”

Unfortunately, Huynh’s fiancee Joy Black hasn’t been able to speak with him since he was taken captuve.

“He was in solitary for something, 40 plus days so I was very worried about his mental health but hearing that he’s with Alex is very encouraging,” said Black.

Bunny says the pair is finding ways to pass the time: “He and Andy have taken bits of paper and made a chess board and they play chess everyday!”

Joy Black and Bunny Drueke are asking people to not forget about the two men.

“Keep them in your thoughts and your prayers,” said Black. “Andy and Alex went over there for the right reasons and we just want to get them home.”

Bunny is also encouraging people to pray for the Ukrainian people as they continue to fight in this war. She adds there is a whole team dedicated to getting Alex and Andy back home to Alabama and right now they are trusting the process.

An advocacy website for Andy Huynh and Alex Drueke went live on Friday and you can learn more about the men and how to help here.


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