Families of captives stay positive at Ukrainian Freedom Festival

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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 remain optimistic about returning home.

People from across the Birmingham community came together this weekend to show their support for Ukraine with a festival called the Ukrainian Freedom Festival. He held on to Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

“I want to be reminded that we are all praying for you, for your health, for your family,” Scotty Colson, Alabama Honorary Consul for Ukraine, told Pastor Fred Ankai-Taylor of the Church. of the risen Christ. He joined the Vinnytsia live event.

“This country is trying to preserve its freedom, its democracy,” Bunny Drueke said. “They fight as hard as they can.”

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

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

The last phone call with his son had good news.

“They had moved him and Andy to another prison,” she explained. “He said it’s more traditional so he has better accommodation, better food, they can go out for exercise every day. Better yet, they are not in solitary confinement. They are together.

Unfortunately, Huynh’s fiancee, Joy Black, has not been able to speak to him since he was taken prisoner.

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

Bunny says the pair are finding ways to pass the time: “He and Andy took pieces of paper and made a chess board and they play chess every day!

Joy Black and Bunny Drueke ask people not to forget the two men.

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

Bunny also encourages people to pray for the Ukrainian people as they continue to fight in this war. She adds that there is a whole team dedicated to bringing Alex and Andy home to Alabama and that they are currently confident in the process.

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

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