Steel Beach: My Life as a Naval Aircrewman 1972-1976

Inkwater Press 2007

Steel Beach: My Life as a Naval Aircrewman 1972-1976

Steel Beach tells the story of Jeff’s years as a naval aircrewman from 1972 to 1976. Homeported in San Diego, California, he deployed on two Western Pacific cruises, known as WestPacs. His deployments took him to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, South China Sea, Gulf of Tonkin, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Sailing halfway around the globe, with six crossings of the equator, an aircraft carrier was his home for months at a time. Ports of call included Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mombasa, Kenya. A squadron detachment including Jeff’s crew flew into Bandar Abbas, Iran, on a diplomatic mission.

With over 300 SAR, ASW, medevac and logistics missions in the Sikorsky SH-3 helicopter, his experiences enriched his life and changed it forever.

The bulk of Steel Beach was written from memory. In addition Jeff had memorabilia such as quarterly marks, squadron and carrier newsletters, portions of his service records, and all of the certificates issued to him as reference material. But perhaps most valuable to the story were all of his letters home, saved by his mother and not discovered until after her death.The letters formed the soul of his story-writing process, serving as a window back in time to his state of mind and where he may have been at sea or in port. Between the letters and military records he was able to reconstruct an accurate time-line.

Our memories are our truths, unique in their vividness, their imperfections, and their beauty. Steel Beach is Jeff’s memory, his truth. This is what makes Steel Beach his story.

You can read more information and see more photos: Steel Beach the Book


You can download the order form pdf or purchase Steel Beach through PayPal:

Finalist in the Oregon Book Awards for creative nonfiction.

Jeff is a member of:
Vietnam Veterans of America
Disabled American Veterans

Current News

February 2024
Jeff recently sold one of his favorite violas to a deserving young player in the Corvallis area. He has completed this year's viola entry for the annual Thomas Metzler contemporary American violin and bow maker exhibition and sale in Glendale, California in March.
He will also be placing one of his Sanctus Seraphin model violins in The Denver Violin Shop, near where he studied viola performance in the late 1970s, at the University of Northern Colorado. He currently has a 16.5" viola of his own design available. This instrument is bold in model and sound, with a delightful range of tonal colors.
He is also pursuing his studies of the Arabic oud, an ancient, 11 stringed instrument which predates the lute and guitar. Fretless like the violin family of instruments, it is plucked like a guitar. It has a unique sound more familiar to the Middle East and has cultural expressions from Iran to Greece, Armenia, Turkey, north Africa and beyond. Jeff seeks to find his own voice with this challenging instrument.
January 2023
Jeff has recently sold a viola he made in 1992 that had returned to his shop. He finished a 16.5” viola of his own design and will complete a violin based on his 1747 Sanctus Seraphin pattern soon. Both the 16.5” viola and violin will be entered in the 6th annual instrument exhibition and sale at the Tom Metzler violin shop in Los Angeles, California, in late March. The exact date and link the exhibit will follow soon.
August 2021
Jeff is currently working on a 16 1/4" viola based on an Andrea Guarneri (1623-1698) pattern. Jeff is using northwest woods aged over 25 years in this instrument.
April 2021
Jeff has recently completed his cancer treatments and is back in remission once again. Over the winter he completed a 17″ Maggini model viola and is currently finishing a 15 1/2″ Studio Model viola of his own design. Jeff is working with a woodcutter in Slovakia to obtain large, one-piece viola backs with dramatic figure and character for future works. He will also be visiting a regional woodcutter this summer to hand select interesting woods.
July 2020
Jeff's book Steel Beach is now available as a Kindle e-book at Amazon's Kindle Store.
Steel Beach e-book
June 2020
Jeff was recently diagnosed with a lymphoma relapse and is undergoing chemothereapy treatments to get it under control. Details will be forthcoming on his Living with Cancer page. He has completed the Betts model violin and will finish the Seraphin model violin soon. He will be taking temporary leave of his workbench until he's past chemotherapy and able to concentrate and do the quality of work he expects of himself.
March 2020
Jeff recently completed a 16 1/8" viola, which is entered in the Metzler Violin Shop's Fourth Annual Contemporary American Makers Exhibition, in Glendale, California. Photos of this viola can be seen in the instrument picture gallery. Jeff is also finishing up a Studio Model violin patterned after the Betts Stradivari of 1704, and will have a violin on his popular Sanctus Seraphin model ready this summer.
September 2018
The Oregon Folklife Network invited Jeff to join a discussion panel on musical traditions being practiced in the area. It will be held at Troubadour Music in Corvallis on Friday September 7th at 7:30 pm.
August 2018
Jeff was recently commissioned to write a short piece for the nationally distributed Vietnam Veterans of America magazine. It will appear on the Parting Shot page in the upcoming issue.
April 2018
Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 28th & 29th, 2018 Marylhurst University, Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Feburary 2018
Jeff will be entering his latest viola in the Thomas Metzler Violin Shop's contemporary instrument exhibition and sale taking place in Los Angeles, March 23-26. Violas will be played by a member of the L.A. Philharmonic at 4 p.m. on March 25th
July 2017
The 17" Maggini modeled viola is sold and Jeff recently finished a 15" viola of his own design and it is now available. He also has his Sanctus Seraphin patterned violin from 2006 back in his shop. This violin was exhibited in the Library of Congress that year as part of the American Federation's participation in "The American violin, from Jefferson to jazz" event.
September 2016
Jeff recently sold a violin based on a 1704 Stradivari as well as a 15 7/8" viola of his own design. He has started two new violas, one on the popular 15 7/8" pattern and one on his 16 1/8" pattern. He expects them to be completed by spring.
April 2016
Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 30th & May 1st, 2016 Marylhurst University,
near Portland, Oregon. Map
March 2016
Jeff just completed a 17" viola based on a Maggini pattern from the late 1500's.
Inquire for price and availability.
April 2015
Instrument Show Northwest Musical Instrument Exhibit: Saturday and Sunday, April 25th & 26th, 2015 Marylhurst University, near Portland, Oregon.
January 2015
Jeff was interviewed by the University of Oregon's school of jounalism for their series Northwest Stories: Violin Maker Jeff Manthos Violin Video link
Jeff is completing a 16 1/2" Da Salo model viola which will be available soon. His next instrument is a 15 3/4" viola on his own pattern, which will be ready by late spring.

Contact information

Street: 2635 SW Fairmont Drive
City/State: Corvallis, OR 97333
Phone: 541-754-7645