Relatives of Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Trinity and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa have been in touch with both the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking information on the men’s whereabouts, press officials said.
Representative Robert Aderholt said Huynh had volunteered to fight with the Ukrainian army against Russia, but relatives have not heard from him since June 8, when he was in the Kharkov region of northeast Ukraine, near the Russian border. Huynh and Drueke were together, said an assistant from Aderholt.
“As you can imagine, his loved ones are very concerned about him,” Aderholt said in a statement.
“My office has made inquiries of both the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an effort to obtain all possible information.”
The US State Department said it is investigating reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine have captured at least two US citizens. If confirmed, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began on February 24.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities,” the ministry said in a statement emailed to reporters. It declined further comment, citing privacy concerns.
A court in Donetsk, under separatist control, sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan man to death last week.
Huynh’s fiancé, Joy Black, publicly posted on Facebook that his family had been in contact with the Drueke family and government officials, and nothing had been confirmed other than that the two were missing.
“Keep Andy and Alex and all their loved ones in prayer. We just want them to come home,” she wrote.
US Representative Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the Americans “are enlisted in the Ukrainian military and thus enjoy legal protection as combatants. As such, we expect members of the Legion to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” It was unclear whether Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, had more information about the men.
He responded to a tweet sent earlier Wednesday by Task Force Baguette, a group of former US and French servicemen, saying that two Americans who fought with them had been captured a week ago. The group said Ukrainian intelligence has confirmed the information.
Early in the war, Ukraine established the International Legion for foreign citizens who wanted to help defend against the Russian invasion.
Huynh spoke to his local newspaper, the Decatur Daily, shortly before flying to Eastern Europe in April.
He explained that he studied robotics at Calhoun Community College, but couldn’t stop thinking about the invasion of Russia.
“I know it wasn’t my problem, but I felt I had to do something,” Huynh told the Decatur Daily.
“Two weeks after the war started, it kept eating me inside and it just felt wrong. I was losing sleep. … I could only think about the situation in Ukraine.”
He said he decided to leave as soon as he learned that young Ukrainians were being drafted into service.
“Just when they turned 18, they were forced to enlist in the army to defend their homeland,” Huynh said.
“Honestly, that broke my heart. I would say that this is probably when I decided I need to do something.”
According to the newspaper, Huynh enlisted in the Marines when he was 19 and served for four years, although he saw no active combat.
Born and raised in Orange County, California, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, he moved to northern Alabama two years ago to be closer to his fiancée, the paper reported.