A man who gathered valuable intelligence for Allied Forces during the Second World War will become the first Swiss person to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., the highest honour for a military burial in the United States.
René Joyeuse, who was born in Zurich in 1920 with the last name Veuve, spent a large portion of his childhood in France’s Alsace region before escaping to the US as the Second World War broke out. However, he soon returned to Europe as part of the French Resistance movement and was eventually recruited as an agent to the American intelligence agency OSS, which later became the CIA.
Shortly before the war ended, Joyeuse parachuted into France and travelled to Paris disguised as a farmer. There, he gathered information about German forces for the Americans.
At one point, German forces surrounded the house where Joyeuse was hiding with his team; he managed to escape after exchanging fire with the Nazi troops.
After the war, Joyeuse studied medicine in Paris and eventually moved to the US with his wife, where they raised two sons and where he worked as a doctor for the state of New York's prison system for 25 years.
One of Joyeuse’s sons told the Swiss News Agency that not many people know about his father’s intelligence work during the war.
“Sometimes he showed us his medals and said he would one day receive a burial at Arlington National Cemetery because of them,” Remi Joyeuse said. His father achieved the second-highest rank in the US Army and also won many medals as a member of the French Foreign Legion.
René Joyeuse died in 2012, at which point his family members sought to fulfill his wish of an Arlington burial by putting in an application for the military honour. The application was denied at first, but the US Army Chief of Staff eventually reversed the decision after the family wrote letters to politicians and other influential individuals.
Joyeuse will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony on March 29.
swissinfo.ch and agencies