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Tuscania casualty is great-grandfather of local woman

Leta Strauss had made a scrapbook of her great-grandparents.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Leta Strauss had made a scrapbook of her great-grandparents.

— For Leta Pollan Strauss, it was local historian Floyd Whitley’s historical digging that sparked her interest in the sinking of the Tuscania.

“My great-grandfather on my dad’s side was William Droogs of Mt. Idaho,” she explained.

Droogs was killed in the torpedo attack that sunk the SS Tuscania during WWI on Feb. 5, 1918.

Strauss said she heard several stories growing up, but it wasn’t until Whitley began researching the event and the Fellowes Medals more than five years ago, and she subsequently joined the Idaho County Historical Society, that she began to learn more about Droogs.

Droogs, like the majority of the servicemen aboard the ship, was a forester.

The men were needed to cut trees and build trenches in France, Strauss said. She does not know if her great-grandfather volunteered to serve or was asked to join.

He was 38 years old when he died, leaving behind three children. His wife was deceased, so the children were then raised by their grandparents. William Droogs still has a living granddaughter, Ronnie Zink, who lives in Orofino, Strauss said.

“I heard stories of the men standing on deck following the torpedoing, singing the Star Spangled Banner, America and a song called, So Where Do We Go From Here?” Strauss said.

Her friend, Mary Ann Davidson, found the music to the last song and called her up one day, playing it on the piano for her.

“You realize what a sacrifice those men made – what a sacrifice my great-grandfather made,” Strauss said. “It makes you think.”


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