Shmuel Yair Landau was born on June 23, 1959 in Baltimore, MD to Vivian and Julian. When Yair was 3 years old, the family moved to Silver Spring in the Washington DC area. There Yair began his education at the Hebrew Academy.
In 1969 the family made aliya and settled in Jerusalem. Yair continued his elementary education at Nve Etzion, begining high school at Himmelfarb and completing it at the Or Etzion Yeshiva in Mercaz Sapir. In 1977 Yair began studying at the Hesder Yeshivat Hakotel.
On July 10, 1978 he was drafted into the IDF in the framework of Yeshivot Hedsder and served in the Armored Corps. When the Shalom Hagalil War broke out in June 1982, Yair's unit went up to Kiryat Shmonah and from there crossed into Lebanon, advancing along the eastern border.
On June 11,1982, as the unit approached Sultan Yaqoub, Yair's tank was hit and he was killed instantly. He was buried in the Military Cemetery on Mt Herzl.