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Both men were troubled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, believing that a threat to democracy anywhere was a threat to democracy everywhere. They were deeply affected when Ukraine's President Zelenskyy called for "friends of peace and democracy" to join their ranks on February 28. Both had military experience - Alex served in the U.S. Army for 12 years, with two tours in the Iraq War; Andy is a former Marine. They felt they had skills, experience and know-how that would be valuable to Ukraine's Army. In particular, Alex knew they could help train soldiers to use the equipment and weapons being sent by the U.S. and other countries, as most of Ukraine's forces had prior training only on Soviet weaponry. Andy felt a deep burden to go and help in any way that he could. Andy and Alex did not know each other when they traveled separately to Ukraine. They met there, and realizing they were both from Alabama and had the same goal, and many things in common, they became close buddies.

No, they did not. They met once in Ukraine, found out they were both from Alabama, and realized they had the same goals: to help Ukrainian soldiers learn to use the equipment and weapons being donated by the U.S. and to support the right of all people to live in freedom and without fear of aggression by hostile parties.

They were captured on June 9, 2022 when the unit they were with came under heavy fire and scattered. When the unit reassembled at the rendezvous point, Alex and Andy were missing. The following week, photos and videos began surfacing on Ukrainian and Russian social media showing the two men in captivity

Bunny Drueke received a text from her son Alex on June 8 when he informed her he would be “going dark for almost all of tomorrow. Possibly the next day too.” She received a phone call from another member of the unit in the early hours of Monday, June 13 to inform her the unit had come under fire on June 9 and scattered, and that Alex and Andy were as of yet unaccounted for. Through a chat on the Signal app, Bunny and Joy Black, Andy's fiancée, connected. Joy had gotten a similar message from Andy about being out of touch for a couple of days. She had also been contacted by the same member of the unit about Andy and Alex being missing in action. Two days later, photos and videos began surfacing on Ukrainian and Russian social media showing the two men in captivity.

Both families remain deeply grateful to that unit member who reached out to us with the news. He is a close and dear friend to Alex and Andy, and to our families he is a hero. With those first two very difficult phone calls, he gave us the precious gift of time. We were able to immediately begin the process of reaching out to our government officials and other channels of aid, and begin important advocacy efforts before the story broke in the media. When those first photos and videos did appear, we were not caught off guard, but already had a network of contacts built and an action plan in place. Those two extra days were invaluable to us and we are very cognizant of the great service that he did for all of us, and for Alex and Andy. 

Andy and Alex had the same goal: to help Ukrainian soldiers learn how to use the equipment and weapons being supplied by the U.S. and how to conduct maneuvers. They moved from unit to unit at first, looking for the right match of needs to their skills, knowledge and experience. They met when both joined up with one unit and then they moved together to their next assignment. We don't know exactly what their last unit was doing when they came under heavy fire, because they men were careful not to share with family any information that could endanger the missions or the lives of the soldiers if it were to be intercepted or leaked. We assume that the group was practicing maneuvers or on reconnaissance based on the accounts that have been shared by unit members to journalists. Only Andy and Alex can tell us for sure, and we look forward to the day they can share that with us.

On Monday, June 13 when Alex's mother Bunny learned that Alex and Andy were missing in action, she called the offices of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). Rep. Sewell immediately assigned a senior staff member to assist the Drueke family and Sen. Shelby's office offered to contact the U.S. Department of State. By the next day, the State Dept. had assigned a case manager for the two men and Bunny began daily communications with them. Meanwhile, the Blacks had contacted Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) who began assisting them. Andy had given his fiancee Joy his Power of Attorney before traveling to Ukraine, but it took several days for the legal team at the State Dept. to establish her as "immediate family" so that she could begin directly communicating with them. Both families now receive almost-daily briefings.

Our families are deeply grateful to our elected officials for mobilizing their teams quickly to help us navigate the immediate steps of engaging the State Dept. and for providing moral support. Aderholt and Sewell continue to personally check in with our families regularly. We explain more about the State Dept.'s activities in another FAQ.

It is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State to provide assistance to U.S. citizens who are detained or arrested abroad, including POWs like Andy and Alex. A case manager was assigned to us on June 14, just one day after our families learned the men were missing in action. So far, the State Dept. has:

  • Communicated almost daily with us by phone, email and virtual meeting, even if it is to tell us they have no new information
  • Publicly confirmed the men's status as Prisoners of War according to the Geneva Conventions
  • Publicly stated they are pursuing every channel and every opportunity to establish the men's location and conditions
  • Ensured all diplomatic lines of communication were opened about Andy and Alex among the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and the U.K. 
  • Shared photos and videos with us of the men from Russian media
  • Provided us notes from calls the captors have had Alex make to them
  • Briefed Representatives Aderholt and Sewell
  • Connected our families with the International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Exchanged information with their U.K. counterparts who are working cases of their own POWs
  • Communicated regularly with the Ukraine Ambassador on our behalf
  • Provided us a contact at the Ukraine Embassy

We are often asked if we think the President is doing enough to help Andy and Alex. We remind people that Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads up the State Dept. He was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in the following day. Sec. Blinken is the face of "the Administration" in our case. We do not expect the President to become personally involved at this point.

It is important to remember that just because the State Dept. doesn't talk about what they're doing, it does not mean they aren't doing anything. In fact, the less they can say, the more likely they are making progress.

Andy and Alex seem to be held in captivity in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. This is a troublesome area from a diplomatic standpoint. Russia and the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) currently control the majority of Donetsk, including the city of Mariupol. The U.S. does not recognize the sovereignty of the DPR. We don't have an ambassador there, we don't hold any POW counterparts to Andy and Alex, and we aren't in the war.

Since the U.S. is ‘on the sidelines’ of the war, the Ukrainian government has to take the lead on any potential negotiations or prisoner exchanges. This is why we were thrilled when President Zelenskyy spoke publicly about Andy and Alex, calling them heroes and vowing to work for their release in an interview for the Aspen Ideas Festival. 

Alex has been allowed to call the State Department case manager and his mother occasionally. We don't know when these calls are going to happen. We don't know why Andy isn't allowed to call. The UK POWs in pro-Russian custody have a similar pattern - one of their men seems to have been "chosen" by the captors as the "spokesperson" for the group, just like Alex.

The calls last 8-20 minutes and parts of what Alex says sound like they are probably scripted or prompted. The families will not repeat these statements because they are likely meant for propaganda purposes. However he always asks after his dog, Diesel, and members of his family, and he seems glad to hear that the American people are not forgetting about him and Andy and the people of Ukraine.

POWs should never be put on trial. In fact, it is against the Geneva Conventions, which Russia signed, to do so. If the leaders of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic put Andy and Alex on trial, it will be a sham proceeding that goes against international laws of conflict. 

To learn more about the status and rights of POWs, read this article by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

You can also read the articles of the Geneva Conventions for yourself here. Article 4 specifically defines Prisoners of War and outlines the treatment they should receive.

It is against the Geneva Conventions, which Russia signed, to use Prisoners of War for propaganda purposes. However, POWs are often prompted or forced to make statements in support of their captors and/or against their own military, leaders, or government. These statements are sometimes passed off as "interviews" or "confessions" when in fact they are not spoken freely. We encourage anyone reading or hearing statements made by Andy or Alex while in captivity to bear this in mind.

To learn more about the status and rights of POWs, read this article by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

You can also read the articles of the Geneva Conventions for yourself here. Article 4 specifically defines Prisoners of War and outlines the treatment they should receive.

You might not have seen or read about Andy and Alex because 1) there have been many important competing headlines in the past several weeks; and/or 2) your primary source for information has not chosen to cover it.

Their capture and updates have been run on morning and evening national broadcasts of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NewsNation, and NewsMax as well as several local stations in Alabama and Georgia, including WBRC Fox 6 (Birmingham), WBMA ABC 33/40 (Birmingham), WIAT CBS 42 (Birmingham), WVTM NBC 13 (Birmingham), WAFF NBC 48 (Huntsville), WAAY ABC 31 (Huntsville), WHNT CBS 19 (Huntsville), and WVUA 23 (Tuscaloosa).

Print media has included the Associated Press, Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK),, and numerous regional newspapers including The Tuscaloosa News and the Decatur Daily. 

You can always keep up to date on the latest news on our News and Updates page. Thank you for wanting to learn more about Andy and Alex! We are glad that you are here.

PrayThemHome is a joint effort by the families of Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh. It has been a labor of love for us to work on it, together, for both men. We have all been committed since the beginning to the idea that just as Andy and Alex are in this together, so are all of us, the family members, in it together, and both families advocate for both men. If you reach out to us through our Contact page, you will get a reply from a direct family member of one of the guys. We read every message, and every entry on the prayer wall, and are thankful for each and every one.