Soldier Whose Possessions Were Sold While in Iraq Gets Full Value Back Plus Apology

A soldier whose stored possessions were sold while he was in Iraq has received their full value of $8,000 and an apology from the storage company.

Patrick Rogalin, a 20-year-old Army Reserve specialist, was flooded with offers of help after his case became a national news item late last year. Rogalin came home in October from a year in Iraq to find that Public Storage Inc. had auctioned off his books, furniture, clothes and everything else he had stored at one of the company's sites near St. Louis.

Public Storage said he had fallen behind in storage payments and initially offered $2,000 for the loss, then raised that to $4,000 as the news spread.

On Jan. 12, Rogalin received a full apology and the entire amount of damages he claimed $8,000 from the company that sold his belongings.

"This unfortunate situation is certainly not something that we intentionally wanted you to have to face on your return from Iraq," John Graul, Public Storage's president of operations, wrote to Rogalin in a letter of apology.

"As a result of this incident, we are thoroughly reviewing our systems to ensure that this will not happen again," Graul wrote.

Aside from getting full compensation for his loss, Rogalin said he was glad the company promised to work on preventing similar problems with other soldiers who use Public Storage units.

"If there's anything good out of this, it's to make sure in the future it doesn't happen again," he said.

The publicity around his case also had a down side.

Rogalin, now a student at Missouri State University, said he was stunned last week when he got a death threat on his cell phone. He reported the threat to police.

And a day later, he was fired from his job, in part, he believes, because of work disruptions caused by the intense publicity about his case. Rogalin declined to name his employer.