Born in Cupar, Sask. on 15 Sep 1914, the son of Jewish Romanian-born immigrants, Sophie (nee TRILLER) and William PECHET, Sam was the second of six brothers. He played hockey, tennis, baseball and golf and he liked fishing… and his Aunty Ida’s vursht! Being amongst the elder children, his younger brothers looked up to Sam and celebrated his willingness to help and defend them when they encountered challenges in their rough and unforgiving rural environment. Even in their later years, the surviving brothers recounted his exploits with great affection and admiration.
After the family moved to Fort Frances, Ontario, he worked with his father at the Monarch Hotel and as manager of a roller-rink.
Sam enlisted in Winnipeg, on 2 July 1942 and was accepted into the Royal Canadian Air Force. Having business affairs to settle, he briefly deferred his training then reported for duty at No. 2 “M” Manning Depot, Brandon, Manitoba on October 14, 1942 – just after his 28th birthday.
On completion of the basic training, Sam was posted to a series of further training schools, earning his Air Bomber badge at #7 AOS (Air Observer School) Portage La Prairie, Manitoba on September 3, 1943.
More advanced training continued in Britain and then on October 27, 1944 he and his fellow crew members joined the RCAF 428 ‘Ghost’ Squadron at Middleton St. George, Yorkshire.
Flying the mighty Lancaster bombers, Sam’s crew completed operations to Bochum (749 aircraft raid), Gelsenkirchen (738 aircraft raid), Neuss (290 aircraft force), Duisburg (550 aircraft raid), Hagen (504 aircraft raid) and Karlsruhe (535 aircraft force). Then on the night of December 5, 1944, they took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 17:50 hours for a 500-aircraft bombing operation to Soest. The aircraft was due over the target at approximately 21:19-21:40 hours. Nothing was heard from the aircraft again.
At 19:00 hours their Lancaster collided in mid-air with a Halifax bomber. Both aircraft crashed to the ground near Yelvertoft, England, and were destroyed by the explosion of bombs and by fire on the ground. Fully-fuelled and bombed up, the massive explosion lit up the evening sky. Both crews – 14 airmen – were killed. Despite a thorough search, no trace was found of five crew members, including Sam.
Sam was a hero who gave his life for his country and those of us from the following generation were deprived of the honour of knowing him. He is now reunited with his younger brothers who so loved and honoured him.