Yesterday NPR reported that Tony Mendez, the man behind the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats trapped in Iran by the Iranian revolution, has died. The six diplomats were hidden by the Canadian Embassy until the CIA was able to smuggle them out of the country. The story was the basis for the movie “Argo.” The full story was not really told until the movie was released in 2012.
The article at NPR reports:
Tony Mendez became a legend inside the CIA with his daring 1980 rescue of six American diplomats who were given shelter by the Canadian Embassy in Tehran after the U.S. Embassy had been stormed by Iranian revolutionaries.
But the “Canadian Caper” remained classified for nearly two decades, and Mendez didn’t receive full acclaim until the Oscar-winning movie Argo, came out in 2012, with Ben Affleck portraying him.
Mendez, who was 78 and had Parkinson’s disease, died Saturday at an assisted living facility in Frederick, Md., outside Washington, according to the International Spy Museum, where Mendez was a founding board member.
“He was a legendary intelligence officer,” said the museum’s Executive Director Chris Costa.
The movie tells the story of how Tony Mendez posed as a film director with a crew scouting locations in Iran for a movie. He then gave the diplomats phony identities as part of his crew and smuggled them out of the country as his film crew. The crew flew out on a commercial airline. It is an amazing movie, and Mr. Mendez deserves a tremendous amount of credit for pulling off the scam. He was a true American hero.