Tuscaloosa City Council Celebrates Homecoming of POW Alex Drueke
The Tuscaloosa City Council honored native son Alex Drueke Tuesday night, celebrating his safe homecoming after more than 100 days as a Russian prisoner of war.
Drueke, a Tuscaloosa resident and 12-year U.S. Army veteran, legally traveled to eastern Europe earlier this year along to join other Americans volunteering to train and fight alongside Ukrainian forces resisting Russian invaders and their allies.
Drueke and another Alabama man, Andy Huynh, were captured by enemy forces in June and held captive by Russian-backed forces for more than three months before they were freed last month as part of a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia.
Alex's mother, Lois "Bunny" Drueke and his aunt Dianna Shaw were warriors for the veteran during his absence and kept his cause front-of-mind for not only the people of Tuscaloosa, but for U.S. government officials and people all over the country rooting for his safe return.
Having had a few weeks to rest and recover from the conditions he endured in captivity, Drueke was welcomed by the city council Tuesday night -- especially by retired Marine Lee Busby and John Faile, who was a Tuscaloosa Police officer for more than 25 years.
"You know Alex, I don't think any of us can understand what you went through," Faile said. "All I can say, from my heart, is I appreciate you and I thank you very much and I know your mom is so glad to have you home, we praise God for that."
"It's never a good sign when you turn on the news and see one of your friends on CNN with a black eye, a swollen lip and a bruised nose," Busby told Drueke Tuesday. "I have a lot of respect for what you did going over there and what you believed in and I am very, very glad you're home."
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox presented Drueke with a proclamation honoring his service and sacrifice, and the former POW thanked the city's leaders and residents for their thoughts during his captivity.
"When I got back and saw City Hall had been lit up just for me, that was absolutely outstanding," Drueke said. "But I also want to thank all the citizens of Tuscaloosa -- I know that you guys were thinking about me, praying for me and I really appreciate it."
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