Wisdom of the Body

Like Peter, I'm not a fan of the Blue Angels. It's not just the noise, though I live in one of the nieghborhoods they fly over low and fast after a North/South run on the lake. No.

I have never served in the military (Nixon ended the draft just before my lottery), and I have never been in combat. So Vietnam was largely TV news stories, photos in Life, the knot in my stomach as draft registration approached, and the stories I've heard from vets that told me it was worse than I imagined.

But every time I hear the Blue Angels, I'm taken back to that one, single, iconic picture of the war: the naked Vietnamese girl running screaming down the road where, in the distance, smoke and flames show over the jungle.

Before the Blue Angels switched to the F/A-18 Hornets, they flew A-4 Skyhawks, the work horse of the Vietnam era. As the Wikipedia article notes of the aircraft's use in Vietnam, "Skyhawks carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the conflict and a Marine Skyhawk is believed to have dropped the last US bombs on the country."

The Navy adopted the Hornet for the Blue Angels in 1986. And while they're shiny and blue in the August sunshine, here's what those sleek machines usually carry (hardpoints are the external mounting points for weaponry and fuel):

  • Guns: 1x 20 mm M61 Vulcan internal gatling gun with 578 rounds

  • Hardpoints: 9: 2 wingtip, 4 underwing, and 3 fuselage, carrying up to 13,700 lb (6,215 kg) of missiles, rockets, bombs, fuel tanks, and pods

    • Missiles:

      • Air-to-air: AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-7 Sparrow, IRIS-T

      • Air-to-ground: AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-88 HARM, SLAM-ER, JSOW, Taurus missile

      • Anti-ship: AGM-84 Harpoon

    • Bombs: CBU-87 cluster, CBU-89 gator mine, CBU-97 CEM, Paveway, JDAM, Mk 80 series, nuclear bombs, Mk 20 Rockeye II cluster, mines

Yes. Cluster bombs, mines, and even nuclear warheads. Over six tons. It's no accident—there's a reason every cell in your body tells you to throw yourself at the dirt when these things fly over. Sometimes the body is very wise.


Blogger Peter said...

Oh my.
No wonder!

5/8/07 21:31  
Blogger Brian Rowe said...

Yesterday, Sarah and I were just discussing how they appear to be glorifying the military industrial complex. I like fireworks or other forms of celebrations but overt displays of how we are wasting our national recourses on war instead of investing them in basic human rights like health care for all truly bother me.

5/8/07 22:34  
Blogger Pamela said...

I hate the Blue Angels. Hate them for military excess, for dive-bomb excess, for pollution excess, and for energy excess. And as a transcriptionist who depends on her ears, I have earplugs in my purse for just such situations as these.

I didn't know they were one of the VW planes, though. Do you know Komunyakaa's "You and I Are Disappearing?" It describes the iconic photograph that you mention and is the use of simile my students understand best. Strong, strong poem.

Thanks for the post.

6/8/07 16:12  

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