General Mendez was born in Guantánamo, Cuba. After graduating from Cuba's Air Force Academy, he became a pilot in the Cuban Air Defense Force, and worked his way up the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel in 1976. On March 1, 1978 he was selected as part of the seventh International Programme for Intercosmos, an astronaut program..
Here are some of Arnaldo Tamay Mendez' accomplishments:
- Director of the Military Patriotic Educational Society
- Director of International Affairs in the Cuban Rrmed Forces.
- Deputy in the Cuban National Assembly
- Honored by the Cuban Government as "Hero of the Republic of Cuba."
- Honored by Soviet Head of State Leonid Brezhnev with the Lenin Order and the Gold Star of Soviet Union Hero.