graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in the
class of 1940.
At Camp Blanding,
Florida he assumed command of the 3rd Battalion of the 508th
upon the activation of the regiment in 1942.
He forged the men
under his command into a combat-ready unit of soldiers whose esprit de
corps would serve them well under their baptism of fire in Normandy.
On June 6th,
1944, (D-Day) he parachuted into France with his Battalion 10 miles behind
the German lines.
For 33 days without
relief Col Mendez and his men distinguished themselves as they pushed back
the enemy, thereby sparing the seaborne landings at Utah and Omaha Beaches
from further assault.
At great cost in
human lives, the largest airborne armada in the history of warfare helped
secure the beaches and guaranteed the breakthrough onto the Normandy
No ground gained by
the 508 was ever relinquished.
Col Mendez was
awarded the second highest medal, the Distinguished Service Cross, for
leading the attack on June 20th 1944, which captured the town
of Pretot, France.
On September 17th,
1944 Col Mendez parachuted into the Nijmegen area in Holland.
Again the 508th
fought valiantly, liberating many Dutch towns.
The finale assault
took place in December, 1944, The Battle of the Bulge, where Col Mendez's
3rd Battalion distinguished themselves at Their Du Mont Ridge
and at Lanzerath, Belgium.
At the wars end on
May 8th, 1945, the 508th was assigned to SHAEF
Headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where it served as honor guard
to General Eisenhower.
Col Mendez then
took over command of the 508 Regiment.
Col Mendez passed
away on 19th September, 2001.