Former CIA Officer and the Subject of "Argo" to Speak at BC
Tony Mendez – the former CIA officer who engineered the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran in January 1980, will speak at Bridgewater College on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall.
Mendez, who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in Argo – the 2012 winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture – spent 25 years working undercover for the CIA, participating in some of the most important operations of the Cold War. To his friends he was simply a quiet, unobtrusive bureaucrat working for the U.S. military. In reality, he was a key intelligence officer known for his ability to disguise himself.
Over the course of his career, Mendez moved into the CIA’s executive rank, where he served as chief of disguise and chief of the Graphics and Authentication Division in the CIA’s Office of Technical Service. In January 1980, Mendez was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor for engineering and conducting the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis.
Before retiring in 1990, Mendez earned the CIA’s Intelligence of Merit and two Certificates of Distinction. In September 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the CIA, he was one of 50 officers selected for the Trailblazer Medallion.
An author, Mendez published his first book,The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, in 1999. He published Spy Dust: A True Story of Espionage and Romance with his wife Jonna, who also will be speaking. His latest book, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, was published prior to the film’s release.
Mendez is a lecturer and consultant on intelligence matters and served as a consultant to the CBS television series “The Agency.”
He and his wife are founding board members of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Jonna Hiestand Mendez is a retired CIA intelligence officer with more than 25 years of service. When she retired in 1993 she had risen to the position of chief of disguise at the CIA. Since that time she has continued her career as a photographer, a consultant/lecturer and an author. She lives with her family and works in her photo studio and the family gallery on their 40-acre farm in rural Maryland.