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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Arlington Burial For Swiss-Born WWII Spy

Rene Joyeuse (front) is pictured in a photo from World War II. (Courtesy Joyeuse family)Rene Joyeuse is pictured at his home in Saranac Lake, N.Y. in 2012. (Courtesy Joyeuse family)U.S. Army photo of Rene Joyeuse. (Courtesy Joyeuse family)

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.


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

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