The family of one of three U.S. service members who have gone missing in Ukraine believes he may have been captured following a clash with Russian forces in eastern Ukraine earlier this month.
U.S. servicemen Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were reported missing earlier this week following the June 9 skirmish with Russian forces, and the State Department announced Thursday that a third U.S. citizen is also nowhere to be found.
Drueke, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who served two tours in Iraq and a Ukrainian Army volunteer, was part of a Ukrainian platoon that came under heavy fire on June 9 while holding a strategic position, and when the platoon dropped back, everyone was accounted for except Dureke and Huynh, Drueke’s family said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Ground and drone surveys have not displayed any sign of Drueke thus far.
“This could mean they are in hiding or it could mean they have been captured,” Drueke’s mother, Bunny Drueke, said in a statement.
The last time she spoke to her son on the phone was June 5, and the last time she received a text was on June 8.
“[G]oing dark for almost all of tomorrow. Possibly the next day too,” his last text read, according to his family.
On June 13, she received a text from another platoon member informing her of her son’s and the other missing U.S. serviceman’s disappearance.
Drueke left the U.S. in mid-April and entered Ukraine through Poland. He made contact with Ukrainian forces from there and helped train soldiers operating drones and other weaponry before being assigned to a platoon.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, Alex immediately told me he wanted to go use his skills to train Ukrainians in how to operate American weaponry,” Bunny Drueke said. “He isn’t married, he doesn’t have kids, and he has the training and the experience. He felt it was his duty to help defend democracy, wherever needed.”
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., have assisted the family in contacting the State Department, U.S. Embassy of Ukraine and International Red Cross.
Drueke will be 40 on June 24. He had been hiking the Appalachian Trail in early 2020 before it was shut down due to COVID-19 and had been living in rural West Alabama until leaving for Ukraine.
Huynh, a former Marine, also reportedly traveled from his home state of Alabama to fight in Ukraine in April, has not been heard from since June 8 when he told his fiancee, Joy Black, that he would be unreachable for the next “few days.”
“He was telling me for a few days that ‘I’m going to be busy soon,'” Black previously told Fox News Digital. “He didn’t tell me what specifically because I don’t think he wanted to worry me.”
The State Department told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that it was aware of unconfirmed reports of the two missing Americans. The Department is urging Americans not to travel to Ukraine.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that “there are reports of one additional American whose whereabouts are unknown,” but he could not “speak to the specifics of that case.”
“We have not raised this yet with the Russian Federation. If we feel that such outreach through our embassy in Moscow or otherwise would be productive in terms of finding more information on the whereabouts of these individuals, we won’t hesitate to do that,” he said.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Jacqui Heinrich, Caitlin McFall and Ashley Pappa contributed to this report.