Thursday, June 15
BENNINGTON — A local Marine veteran, Cpl. Chaz Perkins, is desperately searching for his combat and dress uniforms after they were tossed out by a self-storage company.

According to Perkins, who is still on reserve status and could be called to active duty, it is possible that he could be sentenced to serve time in a military brig for the loss of his uniforms.

Perkins said he had been renting a unit from Green Mountain Self Storage when he fell behind on his payments, owing about $400 to the company. Green Mountain responded earlier this month by cleaning out his unit for lack of payment.

"I went up there to pay up on my storage, but when I went up there, they were already closed. I drove around the side to the storage unit, and it was totally empty," he said.

Perkins said he went back the next day to speak with the owners, who informed him that they had cleaned it out. He was told that loose papers were put in a recycling bin at the town transfer station, and the uniforms were placed on a wood palette to be given to the Salvation Army. Perkins was allowed to go look for the palette and was told by workers that it had already been sent.

Perkins then went to the local Salvation Army, where he was told his uniforms were likely sent on to Albany, N.Y., and that he had "zero to no chance" of recovering them.

Perkins' attorney, Andrew Carter, said he is looking into the matter and expects to file a lawsuit.

"I absolutely feel this is a tragic situation. The owners and operators of Green Mountain Storage had no right to take his belongings. We intend to file a complaint on his behalf sometime next week. It will be in Superior Court in Bennington. It will surely be a civil matter as far as we're concerned," said Carter.

Liza Sparta, who owns Green Mountain Self Storage with her husband, Andrew, claims they followed the contract agreement.

"Basically the customers are sent invoices every month. The contract stipulates that (customers) have 60 days to make good on their bill, and he chose not to do that," she said. "I can't make people pay their bills. It's up to them. We're not bad people, but I've got a mortgage to pay, too."

Along with his uniforms, Perkins said important military documents and priceless medals were thrown away. The medals include the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service award, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Outstanding Unit Citation Award and two sea service ribbons with stars.

"If it was of no worth to them, why didn't they just contact me and tell me to come and get my stuff?" he said.

Carter said that will be part of the case they make.

"Our complaint will certainly note that they took as their own the uniform and medals of a combat veteran and indiscriminately discarded them," he said.

Sparta said the whole situation was unfortunate, but could have been prevented.

"People do get behind in their bills, but all you have to do is keep communication open with people you owe. I really hope that he does find (the uniforms)," she said.