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Bill Withers, at the 2008 Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Awards in Philadelphia.

Bill Withers, at the 2008 Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Awards in Philadelphia. (Steven M. Falk, Philadelphia Daily News/TNS)

Bill Withers, the voice behind classics songs like “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Just the Two of Us,” will posthumously receive the Lone Sailor Award, according to a recent statement from the U.S. Navy Memorial.

Withers, a Navy veteran, died March 30 from heart complications. He was 81.

The award is given to sea service veterans who have excelled in their respective careers during or after their service. Other notable recipients include multiple U.S. presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, actors John Wayne and Bob Hope and sports legend Arnold Palmer.

Prior to his death, Withers was selected by the Navy Memorial board of directors to receive the honor, according to a statement Friday from the Navy Memorial.

Withers enlisted in the Navy in the mid-1950s at age 17, according to his official website. He served for nine years as an aircraft mechanic, a time in which he became interested in music. After leaving the Navy in 1965, he relocated to Los Angeles and started his music career.

He won three Grammy Awards, was nominated for another four and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

“When you have a talent, you know it when you’re 5 years old — it’s just getting around to it,” Withers said, according to an undated quote on his official website.

godbold.theron@stripes.com Twitter: @GodboldTheron

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