Kevin O’Brien ( AKA “Hognose” of weaponsman.com ) Our Departed Friend

Tonight we learned something we had feared was coming over the last few days.  Kevin O’Brien,  known to most of his readers as Hognose, has passed away.  Kevin’s brother updated his brother’s website a few days ago with news that his brother was in bad condition in the hospital and gave an email address for people who knew Kevin more than as a reader of his website.  The details received privately had us greatly worried.  With no sign of recovery his family did what most would want their families to do, let Kevin pass on peacefully.

Kevin’s website weaponsman.com was started almost at the same time as this website, and we have been following him since the start and vice versa. Kevin wrote about us in his “Weapons website of the week ” column and the track back is how we found him.   He said many nice things about our work on his website and it was much appreciated at a time when this site was a two man show.

I got to know Kevin a little more personally via emails thanks to the introduction made by Daniel. I often would send Kevin copies of pictures I  or one of the others took at industry shows and he was usually the first person I shared new gun news with or inside info. I was glad to get to know him better.

If you have not read his website, please do so.  His brother has announced he will take it down soon and much will be lost. If you are not one of his regular readers, you don’t know what you are missing.  In my opinion his was the best gun blog on the web.  He did not do reviews or have the same format as us, but his site was a true blog and it is very  entertaining, It is filled with vast technical data on many weapons and has stories told from Kevin’s long  Army career as he was a Special Forces ( Green Beret).  The name of the site came from his job in the SF “weaponsman” among other things he did in the Army,   “WeaponsMan is a blog about weapons. Primarily ground combat weapons, primarily small arms and man-portable crew-served weapons. The site owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified.”

Some of his most darkly funny posts are the “when guns are outlawed then only  outlaws will have , knive, poison, trucks, pillows, gravity etc etc.,  He would often end those posts with something like “Hug your loved ones tight as you never know when it may be the last time.”   Sadly this is true for all and we lost Kevin all too soon.

I am going to miss Kevin.  I spent a lot of time on his website reading and commenting , If you go there you will most always see a comment from me or Daniel in the comment section of nearly every post.  Indeed is commenters are often subject experts   themselves and were always well behaved and spoken,  It was like the barbershop for firearms and military vets and firearms historians to go hang out at instead of working on their own stuff.

We hope Kevin has found peace, and we offer our condolences to Kevin’s Brother and Father and offer whatever assistance we can give if we can some how help ease their grief,.

Below is the post from his brother and a link.  If his brother updates with more info we will try to edit and add it to this post.

Good bye Kevin, we are all diminished.

www.weaponsman.com

 

Kevin O’Brien

I’m sorry to have to tell you all that my brother Kevin O’Brien, host of this blog, passed away peacefully this morning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Let me start with some housekeeping.  First, the email address hognosecommunity@comcast.net remains active and you may get more and better updates there.  I say this because frankly I’m having trouble posting here.  I don’t know Kevin’s WordPress password and I’m afraid that if I restart his computer, I will not be able to post any more because the password will not autofill.  Therefore I can’t guarantee I will be able to make more updates on the blog.

We are planning a celebration of Kevin’s life for all of his friends some time in early to mid-June, here in Seacoast NH.  I will have details in a couple of days.  All those who knew and loved Kevin, including all Weaponsman readers, are welcome, but we will need an RSVP.  Again, I will make details available to those who write to hognosecommunity@comcast.net.  This is not restricted to personal friends of Kevin, but space will be limited, and we will not be able to fit everyone.  It will be a great opportunity to share memories of Kevin.

We will be looking for stories and pictures of Kevin!  Please send to the email address.

I expect that some time after the celebration, I will be shutting down the blog.  No one other than Kevin could do it justice.

Finally, you should know that Small Dog, whose real name is Zac, has found a home with other relatives of ours.  Of course the poor guy has no idea what has happened to his beloved friend but his life will go on.

Now I’d like to tell you more about Kevin and how he lived and died.  He was born in 1958 to Robert and Barbara O’Brien.  We grew up in Westborough, Mass.  Kevin graduated from high school in 1975 and joined the Army in (I believe) 1979.  He learned Czech at DLI and became a Ranger and a member of Special Forces.

Kevin’s happiest times were in the Army.  He loved the service and was deeply committed to it.  We were so proud when he earned the Green Beret.  He was active duty for eight years and then stayed in the Reserves and National Guard for many years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003.  He told me after that that Afghan tour was when he felt he had made his strongest contribution to the world.

Kevin worked for a number of companies after leaving active duty.  He had always loved weapons, history, the military, and writing, and saw a chance to combine all of his interests by creating Weaponsman.com.  I think the quality of the writing was what always brought people back.  Honestly, for what it’s worth, I have no interest in firearms.  Don’t love them, don’t hate them, just not interested.  But Kevin’s knowledge and writing skill made them fascinating for me.

Kevin and I really became close friends after our childhood.  We saw each other just about every day after he moved to a house just two miles away from mine.  In the winter of 2015, we began building our airplane together.  You could not ask for a better building partner.

Last Thursday night was our last “normal” night working on the airplane.  I could not join him Friday night, but on Saturday morning I got a call from the Portsmouth Regional Hospital.  He had called 911 on Friday afternoon and was taken to the ER with what turned out to be a massive heart attack.  Evidently he was conscious when he was brought in, but his heart stopped and he was revived after 60 minutes of CPR.  He never reawakened.

On Saturday, he was transported to Brigham and Women’s where the medical staff made absolutely heroic efforts to save his life.  Our dad came up on Sunday and we visited him Sunday, Monday, and today.  Each day his condition became worse.

As of last night, it was obvious to everyone that he had almost no chance of survival; and that if he did by some chance survive, he would have no quality of life.  Kevin’s heart was damaged beyond repair, his kidneys were not functioning, he had not regained consciousness, and he had internal bleeding that could not be stopped.  We made the decision this morning to terminate life support.

I’m not crying tonight.  I got that out on Saturday.  What I feel is a permanent alteration and a loss that I know can never be healed.  I loved Kevin so much.  He was brilliant, funny, helpful, kind, caring, and remarkably talented.

At dinner tonight, we agreed that there are probably many people who never “got” Kevin, but there could not be anyone who disliked him.  Rest in Peace.

Please feel free to express your thoughts in the comments and to the hognosecommunity@comcast.net email address

 

47 thoughts on “Kevin O’Brien ( AKA “Hognose” of weaponsman.com ) Our Departed Friend”

  1. Thank you guys for offering up the graciousness of emails over on,Weaponsman. He was a good man and will,be missed.I stumbled upon y’all from the comments on his site. Thanks again guys.

    1. Its my honor Mack. We are open for all of Kevin’s readers and commenters as long as this website exists. I hope it is a place you can all still stay in touch for as long as needed or a better option exists.

  2. I find I keep going back to the site hoping that it was all just some April fools joke. Perhaps I was over invested in a site but I honestly feel like I don’t know what to do with myself as far as my daily reading goes. It was effectively my home page.

    1. Yea I admit I spent more time at his website during the day than any other website. Some days I spent more time there than here. It was the first place I went to when I logged on to my PC or Iphone and he was the first person I emailed when I had a new review or industry news. I been in a funk since hearing. Cried like a baby. I at least hope I can offer up a place for us all to still stay in touch even if its a poor substitute.
      I am thinking of asking his brother if I can save some of Kevin;s work for a “best of weaponsman” post here every month in case he decides to let the blog go dark.

  3. Hognose was a great writer and host. I will miss my numerous daily stops to his site. Thanks for commenting at his site, you always had something interesting to say. I look forward to coming here more often, mostly lurking. Hopefully, some of the Weaponsman regulars will make their way to here.

    1. I will miss him as well. I’m glad he shared his thoughts with us. I hope some of the regulars come to comment here . Even if no other reason than to stay in touch somewhat.

  4. I second your sentiments, Shawn and BAP45. This whole thing has hit me a lot harder than I expected was possible from losing someone with whom I’ve only ever had internet correspondence.

    He was one of a kind, and the world feels a little dimmer for his passing.

    1. BAP45, I think a lot of us were overinvested in Kevin’s website.

      I only rarely commented there (when in the company of experts… stay quiet and learn!) but it was a 1-2 times a day read.

      I’ve been surprised at how upset I’ve felt the last few days. Found out the news just before we sat down to a dinner.

      Shawn and Daniel, it’d be great to keep the community going here if we could. Looserounds has been another regular read of mine for many years.

      Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

      1. this site will always been open for all you guys and all of Kevin’s readers and fan as long as one of us is alive to keep this site going. Hopefully the rest of the boys and girls see my offer and not just fade away

  5. hot-eyed and angry over Kevin O’Brien’s death, but I am grateful he lived so creatively. Much – if not all – of the Weaponsman blog has been saved @ web.archive.com, a.k.a The Wayback Machine, including the monthly archives.

  6. not sure if an earlier comment got through, so I’ll repeat the part that mattered: most, perhaps all of Kevin O’Brien’s Weaponsman blog is preserved and available @ web.archive.org.

    1. You got through Haxo. Unfortunately the new upgrade to our site does not have an option to allow comments to go up without having to be approved first. Not that I have been able to find on my control board yet anyways. Appreciate the news that his work will be saved in some form. I hold out hope that something more… intimate can be created and sustained for those of us who where constants on the comment section.

  7. First time posting here, and I find it sad that i do so on such an occasion. I like many of the commenters here found Hognose to be an outstanding writer and an individual. I often found myself on the comment section after each of his posts just to see what others in the community had to say regarding guns, the VA, when guns are banned and some of his excellent military history posts.

    Although I didn’t know him personally, I did exchange emails with him on occasion and if I were lucky enough to actually know him, I would probably have been proud to have him as a friend. And even though we only conversed electronically, I really do feel that I, along with all of you that have posted here and at weaponsman.com, have lost a friend. We will all love and will miss you Hognose.

    Rest in Peace, you’ve earned it.

      1. FWIW, I emailed Brendan instructions on how to reset Hognose’s password on the blog and make himself (Brendan) an admin account in the Weaponsman.com WordPress site. If he does it before WordPress logs Hognose’s account out, it’s pretty simple.

        I hope it was more, “A bunch of us love and treasure the work that your brother created and don’t want it to be lost” and less “I don’t care about your grieving and just want moar blog.”

        -John M.

        1. Yeah I understand. I hate to see Kevin’s work gone. Many have nothing else to remember him by. No pictures or personal memories. His blog is all they have and its a tribute to him. I am thinking of waiting a month and asking his brother if I can at least repost a lot of his work to here as “best of weaponsman” as a way to keep it alive if he still wants to close it down. I even offered to help pay hosting cost

          1. Hmm. I’ not sure what to do. I’m half tempted to put his picture up on my post. But neither his brother nor Kevin himself ever put it up on his own website. So I’m thinking it may be against their wishes. I’m not sure what to do in that regard.

          2. @Shawn, Hognose mentioned his Gab profile at least once on Weaponsman, and I think more than that. He also regularly posted links from his Gab profile back to his Weaponsman blog posts.

            -John M.

          3. I either forgot or missed those posts, I guess I should mention I didnt even know what Gab was. I’m thinking of making another post about him and the website and putting his picture up there. Since then some one in the comments over there posted a larger picture of Kevin smiling. So I think I will use that one. I am thinking/hoping the new post will be a slightly less somber post and offer another place his community can come and talk to each other. Hopefully we can figure out a way to allow comments to immediately go up without the delay in moderation that results from when me or Howard can’t get to our email or the site to approve them. I really worry that with no new posts at WM, the crew won’t have an easier way to stay in touch and I am already missing that interaction over there as much as I am missing Kevin and his posts.

  8. I really hope someone can take up hosting Weaponsman, because that is one testimony that should continue on as a memorial to Kevin’s lifework. If someone could work with his next-of-kin and try to scrape up all that the site was, and re-host it somewhere, that would be a good thing.

    Never had the pleasure of meeting him in the flesh, and that is something I truly regret. As well, not ever being able to read his no-doubt seminal work on Czech weapons is something else we will all miss out on.

    The death of every good man diminishes us all; this one? More than most, my friends. More than most…

  9. I don’t want to barf this all over Brendan in the comments at Weaponsman, so I’m glad to have a sympathetic ear here. Thanks, Shawn.

    I’m among the many who never knew Kevin IRL but for whom his voice was a more-than-daily presence.

    I have family who live not far from Hognose, and I had grand designs to treat him to a beer or a cup of coffee (if he’d have me) the next time I was out that way. That day never came and I’m sorry that I never got to meet him or to say thank you for the blog in person. I’ve never before seriously considered getting on a plane and flying across the country to attend a funeral for someone I never met.

    It’s been said that if you’re not kind to waitresses, then you’re not a kind person. I think that goes double on the Internet, where it’s even more difficult to be a kind person. Hognose was kind to me personally and to many others, and the community of commenters that he built there was truly a marvel to behold.

    Anyway, may the Lord be with those who grieve, mainly his family who must feel his absence so much more acutely than do we.

    -John M.

  10. My comments on weaponsman.com always automatically go into moderation (not sure why, I emailed Kevin a while back and he wasn’t sure either), so with Kevin gone, nobody will ever read them, except maybe the man himself.

    I never met Kevin either, but I felt like I new him.
    I also hope the blog can be preserved. I may start at the first post and read them all through, it may distract me from the grief I feel.

    RIP Hognose

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over

      1. I need a bit of time before I can start from his first posts again. I’m afraid it will hurt a little too much for me. I did notice on the looseournds FB page Daniel has started to save a few little excerpts from weaponsman. Daniel was rightfully proud when Kevin called him the most knowledgeable gun writers not to have written a book yet. To know Kevin and be associated with Dan has been two of the things I am most proud of to come from Howard and I starting this website.

  11. I commented on Weaponsman how it seemed the site was a unique/dysfunctional family in some ways,the relatives you want to see but only perhaps every few years!I do hope here and other sites folks of at least some similarity stay in touch,damn,gonna miss Hognose,

    I will say as a yan kee resident of Hampster room permitting would attend a celebration of his life,if I do hope to meet some of you “Dysfunctional relatives”.

  12. I happened upon weaponsman.com about six months ago and became a daily (OK, I admit it; multiple times-per-day visitor). Hognose had a way with words, and a disarming (yup) style that made him so likeable. I already miss the guy and his writing, and extend my sincere condolences to his family, both human and canine.

  13. I failed to notice that Kevin had offered me a login to make posts on Weaponsman on 4/12 at about 1900 his time, most likely because I was teaching my class at that time. I failed to notice this follow-up to a comment I made last Wednesday on Thursday.

    Damn. The things that are lost due to inattention.

    Shawn, I can’t remember just now – did I promise to get back to you with some information in response to a query you made at Weaponsman.com? I was writing up a posting on gun cleaning for Kevin to post, and it started expanding well beyond the issue of just cleaning AR’s.

  14. Yay! I found you. Good to see some familiar commenters on here. I will visit this site often, but probably not comment much as I know nothing about guns—although it was always entertaining/educational when Hognose wrote about guns or anything. Will miss him so much, a person I’ve never met, always enjoyed reading the comments section.

  15. Thank you for posting this.
    Hognose was a twice + daily read for me. He taught me volumes.
    May he rest peacefully for all eternity.

  16. Thank you for putting this up. I have been a daily reader of Hognose’s blog for about 3 years. I didn’t realize how much the loss of a man I never met would impact me but I have found myself returning to Weaponsman to read the comments and share in the mourning of all those who’s lives he impacted. He was a man of such diverse talents and I learned so much reading his stories and thoughts.

    I hope there is a way to keep his blog going even if nothing new is ever posted. The wealth of knowledge he posted there should be saved for all of us to continue to learn from and for those that didn’t know about him to get the chance.

  17. Weaponsman was a daily stop for me from the time I found it several years ago. Kevin’s writing was first rate and the civility and knowledge of the regular commenters was much above what’s usually found on blogs.
    I never met the man, but I will miss him.

  18. I remember when I found WM, I read Kevins latest items, then spent a couple of weeks going through the whole site end to end. He was an excellent and eloquent writer, with the rare ability to make any subject he tackled interesting – and with a great line in dry humour. One thing I always looked forward to in the hectic workday was settling down over lunch break with a cuppa and WM. As others have said, for someone I never met I will sorely miss him.
    He even got me into Warren Zevon…

    1. Great to know. I just couldn’t imagine Kevin’s wonderful writing and teaching posts fading off to oblivion.
      I was ready to start re-blogging select articles here in an effort to save the bulk of his site.

      I want to apologize to you guys that your comments have to be approved from moderation by Howard or I and that they don’t go live instantly. That’s the nature of the beast for the way we are currently set up. It had not been an issue till now, since I usual was glad to disable comments to keep from having to read constant death threats from the M14 post or antigun kooks who find their way here. But one or all of us will do our best to approve the comments from everyone who came over here from Weaponsman. I would ask you the favor of trying to make sure the rest of the comment community from weaponsman know they can come here if they want to stay in touch or whatever they need. I wanted to make sure they all know they are invited . even if they have no desire to read anything we have to say .

  19. I started working my way through Hognose’s prolific back-catalog, starting from the beginning. It’s interesting to see what changed over the years and what stayed the same.

    The typos make me melancholic: it was gracious of Hognose to accept my and Scott’s corrections, and I know I was glad to help in that small way.

    -John M.

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