River "Oakley" Nimmo passed away on Thursday after suffering from an "extensive battle" with neuroblastoma for more than three years.
Described in his obituary as "feisty, courageous, smart and full of life," his family said Oakley "often talked of being an 'Army Man,' as he called it, when he grew up," and often played with his Power Wheels and shot his toy guns when he had free time outside of the hospital visits.
In honor of Oakley's big dreams, his family requested military service members or veterans to attend the 5-year-old's funeral service — in uniform — on Tuesday, which was scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. at Cullendale First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark. A burial was to take place at Furr Cemetery in Locust Bayou after.
"We are going to give Oakley a full military service in honor of his wish to become an 'Army Man,' one day," his family wrote on Facebook. "We really want to pay tribute to this soldier."
The Arkansas National Guard announced Tuesday they promoted Oakley to the rank of Honorary Colonel "in honor of his life and passion for the United States military."
"On behalf of the men and women of the Arkansas National Guard, rest in peace little buddy," they wrote on Facebook. "To River's family, you're in our thoughts."
Social media users were quick to send their prayers to Oakley's family from around the U.S., as many had followed his journey.
One user said that despite it all, Oakley "is all army, after all he was in combat for 3 of his 5 year enlistment," referencing that the boy was sick for more than three years.
"He was a fine soldier, and a proud American. God bless you little dude," one user wrote. "He was as brave as any Navy Seal. We live in Georgia or my husband would be there in dress uniform," another person added.