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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org email address.