The following is a press release from the National Park Service.
Les Inafuku, a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS), is the new superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California. He replaces Tom Leatherman, who transferred to the position of deputy superintendent for the National Park areas in the San Francisco East Bay – Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, John Muir and Eugene O’Neill National Historic Sites, and Port Chicago National Memorial.
“I admire his careful attention to visitors and the community and his keen listening skills,” said NPS Regional Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in making the appointment. “Les is very interested in the history and resource management of Manzanar.”
Currently serving as the acting superintendent of Manzanar, Les will permanently relocate to Manzanar in January from his post as chief ranger at Kaloko-Honokhau National Historical Park and Pu’uhonua o Honauau National Historical Park—significant archeological and cultural sites dedicated to perpetuating the traditional Native Hawaiian culture, located on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Manzanar team,” Les said in accepting the position. “Working with the warm and welcoming community here in Owens Valley, plus the park’s superbly dedicated staff and partners, and our park visitors, who are all so touched by the history of this evocative place, is truly inspiring.”
Les previously served as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska and during college at UC Santa Cruz, as an interpretive intern at Ano Nuevo State Reserve in California. He is a graduate of the NPS Mid-Level Management Development Program Class of 2007.
Les, his wife Dawn, and their younger daughter expect to move to Bishop from Hawai’i at the beginning of the new year. Their elder daughter is attending college in Colorado.
Manzanar National Historic Site was established in 1992 to tell the stories of the relocation of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Manzanar was the first of ten war relocation centers built for Japanese Americans excluded from the West Coast. With a peak population of more than 10,000, Manzanar was the largest wartime “city” between Los Angeles and Reno. After the war, all but three of the camp’s 800 buildings were sold for scrap lumber or relocated for other uses. Numerous features from the camp remain, including elaborate rock gardens. The historic high school auditorium now serves as the site’s interpretive center and features exhibits, audiovisual programs, and a bookstore. Nearly 500,000 people have visited the center since its April 2004 grand opening.
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