After River "Oakley" Nimmo died from cancer at age 5, the Arkansas National Guard made him an "Honorary Colonel"
River “Oakley” Nimmo had always dreamed of being an “Army man.”
Just last month, the Arkansas boy celebrated his fifth birthday dressed in camouflage, playing with toy gear and spending time with army personnel in the hospital as he underwent treatment for cancer. Now, his family is asking military service members to attend the boy’s funeral.
“Tonight around 5pm, our sweet boy, River Oakley Nimmo, went to Heaven in my arms. We are absolutely broken. He FOUGHT absolutely 110% until the end,” the family wrote in a Friday post on a Facebook page titled Prayers for Oakley Nimmo.
“We are going to give Oakley a full military service in honor of his wish to become an ‘Army Man,’ one day,” the post continued. “We ask that any active military members and/or veterans to please attend the funeral in their uniforms.”
Nimmo was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2015 and underwent rounds of chemotherapy, surgeries and at least one stem cell transplant. He was declared cancer-free in 2017, but the illness returned less than a month later, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the boy’s family.
The family wrote in a Facebook post that Nimmo’s cancer had “progressed rapidly” and spread to his spine, knees, skull and pelvis. They placed Nimmo in hospice care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock after doctors began to suspect liver failure and Nimmo’s tumors continued to grow in “full force.”
He died on Thursday.
“A sweet, brave boy-Oakley was known by his family and friends to be feisty, courageous, smart and full of life,” his obituary reads.
“Oakley spent most of this life fighting to live and did it with a smile on his face. In between hospital stays, Oakley spent his free time driving his power wheels and shooting his toy guns. He often talked of being an ‘Army Man’, as he called it, when he grew up.”
The service was planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Cullendale First Baptist Church in Camden, Arkansas. In several posts, the family urged military service members to attend the funeral in uniform because “Oakley would have loved to see a bunch of ‘Army Men’ in their uniforms.”
“We really want to pay tribute to this soldier so once we get the details set, please make plans to come and honor Oakley and the fight he has fought,” the family wrote in a post last week. “We want it to be big so we can send off this sweet boy, with a bang.”
It turned out to be bigger than the family asked. KATV reported that the Arkansas National Guard on Tuesday promoted Nimmo “as an Honorary Colonel, assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters at Camp Joseph T. Robinson as an ‘Army Man.'”