Military veteran groups honor native son and former POW on Veterans Day
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A special honor on this Veterans Day for Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh. You may recall the two men traveled to Ukraine and volunteered to help the Ukrainians fight the Russians, and both ended up getting captured by Russian soldiers. They are home now with Huynh in north Alabama and Drueke in Tuscaloosa where local veterans remembered him today.
We caught up with Alex Drueke outside a Tuscaloosa steakhouse and for the first he talked with us about what he endured at the hands of his captors.
“Overall, I’m doing well,” said Drueke.
Alex Drueke turned 40 years old in captivity. He remains on the thin side but all in all recovering and healing. Drueke still suffers from the abuse during his time as a POW; random beatings, four cracked ribs and that wasn’t all.
“They electrocuted me essentially with a car battery four times. So, I was having some heart issues - so I am on heart medication and I have a hearing aid now, so other than I seem to be doing okay,” said Drueke.
The hearing aid is needed now because his tormentors fired several rounds from a rifle at him several times, yet Drueke never broke.
“I’m just stubborn. You don’t really have an option but just keep going so I kept going,” he said.
And kept going is just what he did. Friday afternoon on Veterans Day several local veteran clubs treated Drueke to a well-deserved lunch at a Tuscaloosa steakhouse. “Never before has freedom tasted so good,” said Drueke.
“I am already a veteran from the war in Iraq so this is a special honor to treat me to a meal to say thank you. I woke up this morning from a bunch of people saying happy Veterans Day and thank you for serving America and from my Ukrainian friends as well,” he said.
Alex Drueke says a book is likely in his future, but for now he wants people to know just because he’s home, the war in Ukraine is not over.
“I am open to telling my story because I want people to realize this war is not over. Just because I’m home doesn’t mean we stop providing support, our prayers, or thoughts,” said Drueke.
Meantime, Alex Drueke says he is well aware he’s been given a second chance at life and plans to make the best of it.
“That’s what I’m working on. There are a lot of options on the table. Taking my time to pick the right ones and whatever I do I want to make sure it puts some good back in the world,” he said.
Next week Alex Druke and Andy Huynh will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of the State Department, the Ukrainian Ambassador team and representatives Aderholt and Sewell.
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