If you've never used a Levels-Of-Comprehension guide with your students, you must try it. It's a carefully constructed tool that leads your students step-by-step from making literal observations about a text, to making interpretations, and finally applying the text to broader, thematic concepts.
I have found this type of tool to be very helpful, but difficult to construct. That's why I'm sharing this one here!
I've used this tool with both honors and non-honors students. It was quicker and easier for my honors students, but that's maybe because they didn't really need the help it gives. This tool was a significant help for my non-honors students, carrying them to that "higher level thinking."
Jarrell's poem is so moving, so startling, yet kids can't often readily describe all that it's doing...all that's really happening with it. This reading guide helps them break down their understanding and tie all their inferences directly to the text.
Once you get to the Applied Level in your class discussion of the guide, you will probably have some disagreement among your students. That's a really good thing! As long as they are supporting their understanding with the poem, they're succeeding!
This could be useful in a US History class as well, as part of the study of the "air war" in WWII and the role of the Eight Air Force. (Side Note: Jarrell's "Eighth Air Force" is another beautiful poem that serves as an interesting companion piece. It isn't quite as well known as "The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner," but has been well-received by my students.)