Phay Lovan Memorial Fund
On April 27th, 2019 a son, brother, husband, father, warrior and one of America’s finest, was lost to us after 44 prolific years. Phay Lovan of Storm Lake, Iowa died tragically after experiencing cardiac arrest in San Jose, California. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and son, father, three brothers and two sisters. While Phay is no longer physically in our presence, his legacy will live on through his family and real-life story. They symbolize one of the finest representations of the American Dream – they define America.
Phay's parents laid the bedrock. In the late ‘70s numerous Southeast Asians withstood the weighty yolk of communism, and few who have experienced it, care to speak of it. The Lovans never spoke directly of what they experienced – never ones to even suggest complaining or a “woe is me” mindset. South Vietnam had fallen to the communist north. Pol Pot had massacred approximately 25% of the Cambodians. Hundreds of thousands of Laotion, Vietnamese, Cambodian and other ethnicities fled the region by foot with small children on their backs. Some escaped death, while many others, did not. After fleeing Laos, and having spent significant time in Thailand refugee camps, the Lovan family overcame the tyranny and a long journey armed with relentless hope to survive, and ultimately thrive. In 1980, Phay’s father and mother, Cheua and Ouy, and their seven small children eventually made their way to the United States of America. It was hope that led the Lovans to America, and its unlimited opportunities.
After their long journey, Cheau and Ouy Lovan surpassed the goal of mere survival by thriving, and did so with the utmost class and honor. Perhaps most importantly, they endeavored to instill unwavering values and virtue into their seven children: extreme humility, intense commitment, establishing and achieving high goals, respect for people, education and the unique American opportunity, a selfless path, and the values society holds in the highest regard. These virtues continue to be felt the moment you walk into any Lovan household – it is guaranteed, and has never changed. Clearly Cheua and Ouy Lovan gained significant wisdom throughout the uncertain path that led them from Laos to Storm Lake, Iowa.
Phay Lovan completely embodied the person his parents raised him to be, and that America expected him to be. And he did so for as long as all who knew him can remember. He attended “The Old” South school and Junior High, and graduated from Storm Lake High School in 1995. His emotional maturity and physical abilities often times made him a man among boys as a Tornado wrestler and football player. Phay was two years senior to his classmates and the only one that could drive in the 8th grade. He would graciously haul the 14 year-olds around, “cruising the loop” until the wee hours of the morning – always ensuring his friends steered clear from trouble. In 1994, Phay enlisted in the Iowa National Guard as an artilleryman, and later attended Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, yet always felt the need to give more. In 1997, then Army Specialist Lovan enlisted in the full-time Army.
Phay Lovan loved serving his country – America. As a full-time Army Soldier, he earned the rank of Sergeant First Class (SFC). Throughout his career, he was assigned to 2nd Infantry Division in both South Korea and Fort Lewis, Washington; 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas; and 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. He deployed to combat four different times, including twice to Afghanistan, totaling 21 months and twice to Iraq, totaling 18 months; once to a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo for six months; and to Korea for seven months. SFC Lovan retired in 2018 after 23 years of military service. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medals (3 awards), Army Commendation Medal (5 awards), Army Achievement Medal (5 awards), Army Good Conduct Medals (7 awards) and Combat Action Badge, among several others.
Above all the military heroics and accolades, Phay found absolute joy in his wife and three children. An original stoic, during earlier days he could rarely be found smiling or laughing. However now, in the era of social media, pictures of Phay illustrate a man who was contented and blissful in the life he had created with his wife and children. Only a man who was once considered a lifelong stoic, later becoming so openly happy, could have realized the life his parents and country expected him to achieve was accomplished.
God blessed Phay Lovan. ~De Oppresso Liber
This account has been created solely to provide aid to Phay's wife, Lizy, and their children in their time of grief and need.
Written by Ryan Hartwig