Tony and Jonna Mendez Honored for 'Argo' at America Abroad Media Awards

Tony & Jonna Mendez

Tony & Jonna Mendez

Author and Subject of Oscar Best Picture "Argo", retired CIA Officer

Congratulations to former CIA officers Tony and Jonna Mendez on being honored at this year’s America Abroad Media Awards! The Power of Film "honors outstanding leaders whose work exemplifies the power of media to inform, educate and empower citizens about the critical social and public policy issues of our time.” A total of four people were recognized and honored for their impactful work in film, including Tony and Jonna for their work with the film, Argo:

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Tony and Jonna (arm in arm, second from right) with survivors of the hostage crisis (image via Twitter: @acerrud)

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Argo actor, Ben Affleck pays his respects to Tony


Jonna served as a CIA Intelligence Officer for twenty-seven years before retiring in 1993 as Chief of Disguise with a Commendation Medal in intelligence. Tony served overseas and undercover for twenty-five years before retiring in 1990 with a Medal of Merit in Intelligence. He published his first book, Master of Disguise, in 1999 and a second, Spy Dust, in 2002 which was written in collaboration with Jonna. The most recent book, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, was published prior to the film release of the account. 

Argo chronicles the perilous rescue of six Americans who escaped after Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in 1979 and captured dozens of hostages. Tony Mendez, a top-level CIA officer at the time, formulated a plan to rescue the hostages by disguising himself as a Hollywood film producer. Surrounded by fellow CIA agents and special effects experts disguised as his film crew, Tony went to Tehran under the guise of exploring the city for possible filming locations. This pretend film was called "Argo," of course. Amazingly, Tony and his team managed to keep up the facade while maintaining contact with the six escapees and successfully moving them out of Iran. 

Argo received three well-deseved Academy Awards for ‘Best Picture,’ ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ and ‘Best Film Editing’ in 2012! Two Golden Globe Awards were also awarded to the film for ‘Best Motion Picture-Drama’ and ‘Best Director.’ Many more awards were earned by Argo as the true story of the Master of Disguise and his operatives’ heroism was shared with each viewing. Despite Tony's diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease in 2014 he, along with Jonna, continues to share his fascinating experiences through speaking engagements all over the U.S. We are grateful for the privilege of partnering with this extraordinary and heroic couple! 

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(image via Twitter: @JudyWoodruff)


Want to know how to bring Tony and Jonna to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen! 

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Jonna Mendez served for 27 yeras as Technical Operations Officer and Chief of Disguise for the CIA, which earned her both GS-14 rank and the Intelligence Commendation Medal. She took on the daunting role of properly training agents to use spy cameras and efficiently gather intelligence. In collaboration with her husband Tony, Jonna has contrib...
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