Mendez, CIA agent behind 'Argo,' speaks at MEF event

Mendez, CIA agent behind 'Argo,' speaks at MEF event

September 11th, 2013 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

Tony Mendez, who is portrayed by Ben Affleck in the movie "Argo," is speaking at a fundraiser for the Mountain Education Foundation Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. He is also holding a book signing open to the public that evening beginning at 8:30 p.m.

For 25 years Tony Mendez was a disguise master for the CIA, working undercover from East Asia to Moscow. Last year Ben Affleck starred in and directed a movie called "Argo" based on Mendez's rescue of six American diplomats from Iran.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, Tony and his wife Jonna Mendez, who also worked for the CIA, are speaking at a Mountain Education Foundation fundraiser at Signal Mountain Middle/High School. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Coffee and dessert will be served.

"He has a great story and a real passion for the arts and education," said MEF Executive Director Mike Taylor. "He will be talking about the experience that he went through and will be sharing the impact the arts have on students in schools."

Although tickets for the program have sold out, Mendez is holding a book signing open to the public following the program at 8:30 p.m. in which he will sign copies of his books, "Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History" and "The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA."

Taylor said the event is the big kickoff for MEF's annual fundraising drive. He expects around 800 people to attend the event and anticipates raising $200,000. The money will go toward the annual fund, which is distributed to the three Signal Mountain public schools based on the needs expressed by school officials, he said.

"We're really excited to have them come to Signal Mountain and share their story with us," Taylor said of the Mendezes. "We really appreciate the Signal Mountain community in all their support in coming out. Our success is based on the support and generosity of the community and we couldn't do it without them."