Roll of Honor

Edward W. Vanner Jr.

Edward W. Vanner Jr.

  • Assistant Chief
  • Fire & Emergency Services - Quonset Air National Guard Base
  • Rhode Island
  • Age: 58
  • Year of Death: 2013

Edward was born March 20, 1955, to Edward W. and Teresa (Nappi). He met Brenda in 1988, and they married in 1993. Brenda and Ed spent 25 years building a life together. Their son, Zachary, was born in 2001. Edward has two children from a previous marriage, Edward W. Vanner III, born in 1985, and Stefanie Lee Vanner, born in 1986. Edward was a caring, loving father to all three of his children. His integrity and no-nonsense attitude were distinguishable attributes of his character.

Edward began his fire service career in 1988 through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Forestry. His tenure included three trips on the western fire crew 1988-1993; Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite National Park wildfires. He served the West Greenwich, Rhode Island, community for approximately two years as a volunteer firefighter for Lake Mishnock Volunteer Fire Department.

In 1990, Edward took a position as a firefighter for Quonset Fire Department Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. He advanced to crew chief in 1991 and held that position until 1997, when he was promoted to assistant chief of operations. Ed had extensive HAZMAT training and held an incident command certificate for these materials. His other accomplishments include Fire Officer I, Fire Inspector I and II and Fire Instructor I. According to Chief Novellino, Ed was known as an outgoing “funny guy” who served as a mentor for the younger members of the department.

An avid race fan, Ed worked for 20 years on the crash and rescue response team for Speedway Safety Services at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. He used to say that being in “turn two” was the next best thing to racing himself. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was his favorite driver in the NASCAR circuit until his untimely death in 2001. Ed was proud to spend his 50th birthday in Kannapolis, North Carolina, on the Dale Trail honoring his race car idol. A member of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), drag racing was Ed’s first passion. He loved to watch John Force win yet another championship. Force’s energy and enthusiasm for the sport would prompt Ed to say, “I love that guy.”

Edward played varsity football in high school for the West Warwick Wizards in the early 70s. He shared fond memories of his days as number 13 on the team. His given name on the field was “crazy legs” for his calculated maneuvers avoiding defenders. Ed was the goaltender for the Rhode Island Reds minor league hockey team out of Providence in the mid-70s. He loved playing the net.

Edward made sacrifices for his family and the community he served. He is forever missed. “God speed,” Assistant Chief Vanner.