Two American fighters Drueke and Huynh are missing in Ukraine and feared captured

The men are Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama.

A man serving as the team’s sergeant, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, provided CNN with photos of both men’s passports and their entry stamps into Ukraine. The man said their unit fought near the city of Izbytske on June 9 under the command of Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade.

Drueke and Huynh, he said, went missing during the battle and subsequent searches failed to find any remains. A message on a Russian propaganda channel on Telegram the next day claimed that two Americans had been captured near Kharkov. “It was absolute chaos,” he told CNN. “There were about a hundred infantry approaching our positions. We fired a T72 at people 30, 40 meters away.”

Bunny Drueke, Alexander’s mother, told CNN that “they are believed to be prisoners of war, but that has not been confirmed.”

She said the US embassy in Ukraine has not been able to verify whether her son was imprisoned. “They have not been able to verify that he is with the Russians. The only thing they can verify is that he is currently missing,” she said. “They are in close contact with me and I am confident that they are working on the situation.”

Huynh’s fiancĂ©e, Joy Black, told CNN: “We don’t want to make any assumptions about what could have happened at this point. Obviously they’re looking at different scenarios. And one of them is that they may have been captured. currently no absolute confirmation of.”

A spokesman for the US State Department said on Wednesday that they are “aware of unconfirmed reports of two US citizens detained in Ukraine”.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities,” the spokesman said. “Due to privacy concerns, we have no further comment.”

The White House said on Wednesday it could not confirm the reports, but John Kirby, the National Security Council’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said that “if it is true, we will do everything we can to get them home safely.”

Both Bunny Drueke and Black told CNN that their last communication with their loved ones was on June 8, when the men told them they would be going offline for a few days on a mission.

“It was actually a pretty normal conversation: I told him I was going to get dinner with my friends at our favorite restaurant,” Black said. “And he said, ‘I love you very much.’ And then he said, “I’m not available for two or three days.” Which I found out was for the surgery they were doing.”

They got engaged in March, not long before he left for Ukraine, she said.

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“We didn’t know if we wanted to get married or get engaged before he left. And we decided to just get engaged so that when he came back we could get married and enjoy it and not split up right after we got married.”

Now, she said, she is “very vulnerable.”

“Even though great things have not happened, I am still very proud of Andy because he is strong,” she added.

Bunny Drueke said she has “ups and downs”.

“I’m trying to stay calm and brave because losing everything won’t help Alex in the least. So I’m just trying to stay calm,” she said.

Drueke and Black later explained to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a joint interview on “AC360” Wednesday night that selflessness and love for the US fueled the decision of their loved ones to go to Ukraine.

“He is one of the most loyal Americans you could ever hope to meet and he was proud to serve his country,” Drueke said of her son. “He said, ‘Mom, I really need to go help fight in Ukraine because if Putin is not stopped there, he will not be satisfied, he will be encouraged and eventually Americans will be threatened.'”

Black fought Cooper, telling Cooper that her fiancĂ© “wasn’t going there for selfish reasons or anything. He really had a gnawing heart and a big burden on him to go and serve the people however he can.”

“I know it’s not a great situation, but I’m still very proud of him. I just want to see him safe again,” she said.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

Jennifer Hansler, Kaitlan Collins and Devan Cole of CNN contributed from Washington, DC.

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