90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, March 28, 2013

Arlington Burial For Swiss-Born WWII Spy

Rene Joyeuse was born in Switzerland but he was a hero for the U.S. during the Second World War.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross because he provided the allies with invaluable intelligence before the D-Day invasion in 1944.

“His activities behind the lines are legendary. He’s arguably one of the greatest spies that OSS ever produced.”
– Patrick O'Donnell, military historian

After World War II, Joyeuse immigrated to the U.S. and became a prominent doctor in New York.

His family says he always wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

But when he died last June, the request was denied because of questions about his citizenship during the war, and the fact that he wasn’t a member of the American military.

A campaign to reverse that decision succeeded and Rene Joyeuse will be buried at Arlington tomorrow afternoon.

Military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell was part of that campaign.

He told Here & Now that if anybody deserves to be buried in Arlington, it’s Joyeuse.

“I’ve interviewed 5,000 World War II veterans, and his story stands out among all of them,” O’Donnell said. “It’s an extraordinary story of service to the United States. And his activities behind the lines are legendary. He’s arguably one of the greatest spies that OSS [the Office of Strategic Services] ever produced.”

Rene Joyeuse is pictured at his home in Saranac Lake, N.Y. in 2012. (Courtesy Joyeuse family)

Rene Joyeuse is pictured at his home in Saranac Lake, N.Y. in 2012. (Courtesy Joyeuse family)

O’Donnell found Joyeuse’s story so compelling, he started his third book with it. (Read an excerpt here)

The prologue of “Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs” describes how Joyeuse shot his way out of a Nazi ambush in Northern France and gave the Allies vital details about a German oil refinery and rocket factory.

Thanks to that intelligence, those sites were bombed before the invasion in June 1944.

Rene Joyeuse’s son Remi Joyeuse told Here & Now why it was so important to his father to be buried at Arlington.

“My father was a soldier and the highest honor you can bestow to any soldier is to be buried next to his military heroes. And based on his actions on the combat field he deserved that honor,” Joyeuse said.

Guests:

  • Remi Joyeuse, son of Rene Joyeuse.
  • Patrick K. O’Donnell, combat historian who has has written about Rene Joyeuse.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 20 3 Comments

The Man Behind ‘Mockingjay’

Francis Lawrence describes the rewards and challenges of bringing "The Hunger Games" books to the screen.

November 20 Comment

Iraq War Vet Wins National Book Award For Fiction

The judges described the short stories in Phil Klay's collection "Redeployment" as brutal, piercing and sometimes darkly funny.

November 19 11 Comments

New Film Revisits The Jerry Sandusky Sex Abuse Case

The Penn State assistant football coach will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, but that's not the end of the story.

November 19 222 Comments

Without Slavery, Would The U.S. Be The Leading Economic Power?

Edward Baptist argues in his new book that slavery was integral to establishing the America as a world economic power.