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This old Mini Cooper has been parked in a handicapped parking spot across the street from a Mannheim area post office for more than a month. The base removed the car late last week.

This old Mini Cooper has been parked in a handicapped parking spot across the street from a Mannheim area post office for more than a month. The base removed the car late last week. (Nancy Montgomery / S&S)

MANNHEIM, Germany — Several cars abandoned in prime parking spots near the commissary, post office, post exchange and shoppette of U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim were towed away recently after a story about them was published in Stars and Stripes.

“I couldn’t believe it. I went to the commissary yesterday. It was gone!” said Greg Davis, of a car that had occupied the closest spot to the commissary entrance for some time.

“I’m very happy about it,” Davis said. “I’m sure there are other people, too, who are happy. They can park now.”

Davis, 35, a former Air Force combat photographer who now works as a free-lance photographer and househusband, described his efforts to get someone within the garrison to tow the cars in a story published May 9.

The cars, all ticketed and stickered, none with license plates and at least one with a flat tire and no headlights, had been sitting in close-in spots for at least a month, Davis said.

The situation annoyed him because it seemed “lackadaisical,” he said, and especially because the closer he could park, the less disruption to his sleeping baby during his errands.

Davis said he’d talked to several garrison officials, all of whom said it wasn’t their job to tow the cars, and some of whom seemed irritated he’d brought up the matter.

Eventually, he said, he spoke with the garrison commander, who told him that the garrison didn’t have the money or manpower to tow the cars away.

Stars and Stripes could not get comment from the commander about the cars for the story. Other officials said it wasn’t their job to tow the cars. A garrison spokesman said the garrison had no problem with abandoned cars.

The cars, however, were towed within days of the story.

“All four are now gone,” Davis said.

But how it happened that the decision was made to tow the cars remained unclear late last week.

Michael Mowrer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, which oversees the Mannheim garrison, couldn’t reach the appropriate officials on Friday. But he said towing the cars had not been a priority but then “it moved up in priority.”

Late Monday, after requests for information on the matter, a Mannheim public affairs official e-mailed Stars and Stripes on behalf of David Smith, deputy Mannheim garrison commander.

“The vehicles listed in the (Stars and Stripes) article have been removed,” the e-mail stated. “A concerned community member brought the issue to the command ... As a result of that we have made [their] removal a higher priority.”

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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