Mother says captured U.S. soldiers from Alabama moved to new prison
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The mother of retired Sgt. Alex Drueke, a former U.S. soldier captured in Ukraine, said he and Andy Huynh have been moved to a prison in an unspecified location.
Sgt. Drueke, who is from Tuscaloosa, and Huynh, who is from Hartselle, were captured in June of 2022.
Sgt. Drueke was able to make contact with his mother for the first time in 20 days, telling his mother that he and Huynh had been moved out of solitary confinement and into a cell with a third person.
In a call with his mother, Bunny Drueke, Sgt. Drueke asked for the number of the family’s case manager at the U.S. Department of State, which Mrs. Drueke provided him.
“To me, this suggests that maybe Alex and Andy are with different captors now who did not already have this information,” Mrs. Drueke said.
“He sounded strong and clear-minded. He said he and Andy have been moved to a traditional prison, that they are no longer in solitary confinement but that they are together now 24/7,” Bunny Drueke said. “He said a third man is in the cell with them but he did not reveal his name and I did not ask because I didn’t want the call to be cut off if I got too nosy,” Drueke said. “That happened once before,” she explained.
The State Department confirmed to Mrs. Drueke that Drueke placed a call to them after he called her. They did not disclose to her the suspected location of the prison nor the identity of the third man in the cell with Drueke and Huynh.
“They said they couldn’t share further specifics with me yet due to privacy considerations for the third man’s family,” Bunny Drueke said.
Mrs. Drueke was able to share with her son some of what she learned in a virtual meeting with State Department officials on July 22.
“I told him that they said he and Andy are ‘top priorities’ for our government,” Mrs. Drueke said. “I explained that with the UK POWs, only one of them has been the ‘spokesperson’ allowed to call, just like how only Alex has been calling and not Andy,” Mrs. Drueke said.
“I let him know that Joy [Black, Huynh’s fiancée] and I are looking forward to an upcoming virtual meeting with the Ambassador from Ukraine,” she said. “And I told him the International Committee of the Red Cross is still trying to schedule a wellness visit to make sure they are being treated correctly as POWs.”
Drueke’s mother also informed him that the U.S. Government has openly offered to negotiate with the Kremlin for an exchange for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
“Alex said, ‘That’s encouraging!’” Bunny Drueke said.
“Our hearts are with Griner’s and Whelan’s families and we hope their detentions are resolved soon,” Dianna Shaw, Alex’s aunt, said. “Our situation is different of course because Alex and Andy are lawful combatants being held as Prisoners of War, but we continue to hold faith that our men are being treated according to international standards of the Geneva Conventions and that they will be released soon.”
According to his mother, Drueke seemed glad to hear that she had hand-delivered Huynh’s personal items to Miss Black and that Huynh’s Bible and engagement ring were among the items. He indicated that this would be welcomed news to Huynh.
“I’m just so relieved our men are together now, and happy that I could pass messages of love and support to Andy through Alex,” Bunny Drueke said.
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