BANGOR, Maine — Bill Knight, one of the three Bangor troop greeters featured in the documentary “The Way We Get By”, is recovering at Maine Veterans Home after undergoing a pair of surgeries to fix his broken hip.
The 89-year-old World War II Army and Navy veteran broke his hip in a fall at his Sunbury Village in mid-October of 2011. Knight has been in bed or using a wheelchair since, according to Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, the now-husband-and-wife team that produced the documentary.
Knight did not feel well enough to be interviewed this week, according to Gaudet and Pullapilly.
Knight is a member of the Bangor Troop Greeters, a group that gathers at Bangor International Airport to welcome soldiers as they return from overseas conflicts or wish them well as they leave for deployments. Knight is the oldest of the three greeters featured in the 2009 documentary.
During filming for “The Way We Get By,” Knight battled with a spreading cancer. But the prognosis didn’t keep him from greeting troops, Gaudet said.
“I’ve never seen someone deal with pain or bumps and bruises like Bill does,” Gaudet said. “You can’t slow him down.”
Knight was at the airport the morning after he found out he had cancer to shake hands with a flight of soldiers.
Being unable get up and be active or meet troops at the airport has been tough on Knight these past few months, Gaudet and Pullapilly said.
However, they said Knight’s spirits are lifted by reading letters, notes and cards from soldiers who remember meeting him when they passed through the airport, fellow greeters or complete strangers who saw the documentary and wanted to wish him well.
“We could tell it meant a lot when he received cards or letters,” Gaudet said Friday. “It definitely brightens his day.”
Pullapilly and Gaudet said anyone interested in writing or sending a card to Knight may address mail to Maine Veterans Home, 44 Hogan Road, Bangor 04401, Attn: Bill Knight, Room C31.
The two filmmakers have moved from New York to Bar Harbor and are preparing to shoot a movie, which Gaudet described as a “coming-of-age film” based on the potato harvest in Aroostook County.
They continue to visit Knight as he works on his rehabilitation.