Alex Drueke was honored on Veterans Day with an intimate luncheon with several other local veterans and guests at Logan's Roadhouse.

Drueke spent over 100 days in the captivity of Russian-backed forces in Ukraine before being released, and his family honored him with the luncheon Friday to celebrate and remember those who sacrificed their lives to protect and serve the country.

Drueke shared stories from his captivity with guests, including District 6 Tuscaloosa City Councilman John Faile and members of the American Legion Honor Guard. Drueke said despite the torture he and friend Andy Huynh endured during captivity, the pair can now lighten the mood over jokes.

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"Most of the time when me and Andy get together now, we just laugh about it," Drueke said. "We have inside jokes and so many stories and we realized humor can keep you alive."

Drueke, a U.S. Army veteran, said it is an honor to have the opportunity to serve the country and thinks it should be celebrated to recognize the services men and women have made to serve the country.

"I didn't join the U.S. military for fame and fortune," Drueke said. "I didn't go to Ukraine for fame and fortune. I did it because I felt obligated to protect their country and I felt obligated to protect democracy. Veterans Day has always been special to me and it's even more special being able to be home to celebrate it."

Faile said he is excited for Drueke and his family to have the opportunity to celebrate his sacrifice and the sacrifice of other servicemen and women.

"If it wasn't for them, there wouldn't be a United States of America," Faile said. "We owe all we have to the men and women that have fought for us, and so many that gave their all. I admire them for giving their life for the service of this country. We can't do enough for them."

Drueke said he and Huynh are working to turn their experience in captivity into something production, with hopes of one day being able to help others who may find themselves in similar situations.

"There are a lot of possible options on the table so I am taking my time to make sure I am picking the right ones," Drueke said. "I realize we have a very unique experience and we have the potential a lot of good with it. I'm looking at ways to possibly get into government advisement so that I can help train people who may be in this situation and hopefully save some American lives."

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