SARANAC LAKE - The family of a European-turned-American man who won top honors for valor in World War II has received approval from U.S. Army Secretary and former North Country Congressman John McHugh to have his remains buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
After Dr. Rene Joyeuse of Saranac Lake died in June, his family was originally denied permission for burial in Arlington because Joyeuse was not an American citizen during World War II, when he worked for the United States Office of Strategic Services. Joyeuse parachuted behind German lines before D-Day with orders to gather crucial intelligence about German military installations, supply depots and troop movements so the allies could bombard them before the invasion.
For this mission, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower personally awarded Joyeuse the Distinguished Service Cross, second in magnitude only to the Congressional Medal of Honor in the United States. France gave him its highest military honor, the Legion D'Honneur-Chevalier.
Joyeuse in 1944
McHugh cited these accomplishments in a letter to Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who - along with U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, McHugh's successor in Congress - lobbied the Department of the Army and requested permission to bury Joyeuse in Arlington.
"Dr. Joyeuse's case was carefully reviewed by senior leaders on my staff pursuant to our standard protocols for processing these requests," McHugh wrote. "Though Dr. Joyeuse was not a member of the U.S. military, these senior leaders overwhelmingly recommended that this request be granted due to his extraordinary heroism, lifetime scientific contributions and civilian service in support of the U.S. military. I agree, and have acted accordingly."
Joyeuse was born in Switzerland as Rene Veuve. "Joyeuse" (French for "happy")?was his U.S. spy code name, and adopted it as his surname after the war. After graduating from medical school in Paris, he and his family came to the United States in 1955. He lived in Saranac Lake for the last 25 years, worked for the state correctional department and later retired. He was also a noted surgeon who helped develop the first replacement heart valve and was a founder of the American Trauma Society.
Joyeuse was recently named to the Saranac Lake Walk of Fame. Rabideau said fundraising efforts for his plaque will soon get under way.
"Dr. Joyeuse is a true American hero and we, in Saranac Lake, are proud to call him one of our own," the mayor wrote in a press release. "I am very pleased he will be appropriately and honorably buried in Arlington National Cemetery among the many other great American heroes."
"Dr. Rene Joyeuse is eminently deserving of this honor, having served our country in battle during World War II and here at home," Owens said in a statement. "His passing is a loss for the community and the country, but he has left a proud legacy worthy of burial at Arlington National Cemetery."
Rabideau wrote about the life of Joyeuse in the Enterprise in August: adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/532386/A-quiet-American-hero.html.