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March 29th, 2013
12:48 PM ET

Distinguished WWII spy honored at Arlington

By Jonathan Binder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @jbinder

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – On Friday Rene Joyeuse's ashes will be placed in Arlington National Cemetery after a ceremony held by his family.

For much of his life, Joyeuse hadn't told many people about his time in the military and the dangerous missions that he went on during WWII. He was a Swiss-born spy for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services or OSS, which was the precursor to the CIA.

But his achievements were so great that  General Dwight D. Eisenhower personally gave him  the Distinguished Service Cross.

In 2002, Joyeuse  invited author and combat historian Patrick O'Donnell into him home to have dinner with his family. O'Donnell has written eight books, all focusing on the heroism of the U.S. Military throughout history. It was that night when Rene shared with O'Donnell his incredible stories from WWII. Rene recalled a near-death escape from the Nazi forces in northern France.  Listen to the full account of that story in the player above.

After hearing Joyeuse's story and later writing about it, O'Donnell believes Joyeuse  is one of the greatest spys to come out of the OSS:

[3:20] "His contributions are extraordinary. He provided actual intelligence on a V1 jet propulsion rocket factory that was bombed by the Allies – variou units that were heading toward the Normandy Beach, he identified."

Joyeuse even created an underground railroad network to help guide close to 300 downed airmen to safety. And the list of his achievements continues.

O'Donnell and Joyeuse's  family believed this incredible spy would be put to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, but that almost didn't happen. At first, the request was denied. But over the course of several months O'Donnell, the family and many other supports made the case for Joyeuse's urn to be placed in Arlington, and eventually the board at Arlington approved.

Joyeuse's son, Remi, remembers his father telling him when he was a child that he would end up in Arlington National Cemetery. And when Rene died in 2012, the family had him cremated, but didn't hold any ceremony. Remi Joyeuse said they would wait until it could be done at Arlington.

[4:25] "He is I'm sure honored to be buried with his comrades, and the fact that his achievements are being recognized and of all places Arlington National Cemetery – it's about as big an honor as you could ever imagine. We're just blessed and thankful for all those that have put their time and effort to make this happen."

For more on what it is like to be a professor falsely attached to a hoax for 13 years, listen to our story above. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

 

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