Mendel Kogan was born in 1916 in Odessa. In October 1937 he was drafted into the Red Army. In 1941 he graduated from the Orel School of Armored Forces and was sent to an area of Poland recently annexed to the Soviet Union. In the city of Lwów he served as an adjutant to the HQ of the 1st Tank Brigade.
Kogan took part in the Soviet-German war from its very first day, June 22, 1941, on the South-Western Front (in Ukraine). He took part in the Red Army's retreat in the summer and fall 1941, in the defense of Moscow in the winter of 1941-1942, in the Stalingrad operation in July 1942-February 1943, in battles in southern Russia (Voronezh) in 1943, in operations on the Leningrad Front, in Belorussia and in the Baltic states in 1944 and in Poland and Germany in late 1944 and 1945. From September 1944, Kogan was the head of the HQ of the 3rd Tank Brigade, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. During the whole of the war, Mendel Kogan served as a staff officer, which might have meant that he was far from combat. However, that the truth was otherwise. This is attested to by the recommendations he received for military awards , which cited his "valor" and "courage." By the end of the war, he had been awarded twelve orders and medals. The citation for the Order of the Patriotic War, that he received in May 1944 (following battles in northern Romania) says: "Wherever Comr[ade]. Kogan appears, the course of the battle turns toward success." The citation for his second Order of the Red Banner notes that, during the enemy attack on the HQ of the 3rd Tank Brigade in January 1945 in Pomerania, he commanded the defense of the HQ, and carried out the tank operations in Pomerania with minimal losses of the Brigade's men.
After the war, Mendel Kogan continued to serve with various tank divisions and regiments. In 1956, he retired with the rank of colonel. The reason for his retirement at the age of 40 years is unclear. In 1994, Kogan and his family emigrated to the USA, where they lived in Charleston, South Carolina. Mendel Kogan died in 2000.