In Memory of
Army Forty-First Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Officer
Vancil P. Biley
Wall, South Dakota
Pennington County
October 27, 1916 -- April 14, 1945
Killed in Action in Bayreuth, Germany

Vancil P. Biley

Vancil was born on October 27, 1916, in Wall, South Dakota.  He was the first of twelve children born to Peter and Fannie Biley.  Vancil grew up and received his education in Wall.  Before he entered the service, Vancil was employed at Wm. Simpson Construction Company & Concrete Ship Construction Company in Los Angeles, California. During the same month, Vancil registered into the active services of the Armed Forces at Fort Crook, Nebraska.  He reported for active duty on November 12, 1942, and left the United States two years later.  According to his assistant point or flank leader, Edward Smialek, Sgt. Biley was involved in “heroic combat drive through France, Belgium, and into Bavaria.” Bayreuth, Germany, the place where Vancil was killed on April 14, 1945, was “a place where scattered firefights of small units kept most troopers busy.” According to Mr. Smialek:

The last fight of that day was at the outskirts of the city. German infantry came
charging across the open field adjacent to our lines. Most troopers were busy firing
from a set line position with their backs facing the city. A German officer penetrated
our lines and was heading for a firing position. The hurt he could have inflicted on our
troopers can only be left to the imagination. Sgt. Biley was the first to spot him (expected
from a top scout) and gave chase on foot. Pfc. Buti (jeep driver) and I followed in our
jeep. The German took refuge in a barn-like building with Sgt. Biley after him. At the
time the jeep got up to the building, small arms fire was heard that resulted in both Sgt.
Biley and the German being fatally wounded. Sgt. Biley passed away while in the ambulance
going to the aid station. 

Sgt. Biley was a Scout Sergeant for first section, Troop C, 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, mechanized, 11th Armored Division, Patton’s Third Army.  As a scout, his duty did not include combat, except if ordered to or for self-preservation. So his actions that led to his death were indeed courageous and selfless ones. After the war, the remains of Vancil P. Biley were returned to the United States, and he was reburied with military honors in the military section of the Mountain View Cemetery in Rapid City. As Edward so poignantly closed, “May God have you with Him, Sgt. Biley, and please forgive my tears as I write.”

Melissa Basham and Catherine Walker, eighth grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Rapid City, South Dakota, respectfully submitted this entry on March 6, 2002.  A newspaper clipping, bonus record, and Edward Smialek, Largo, Florida provided information for this entry.