The little book contains no names, not even that of its owner, though there is evidence that he had some connection with Vitebsk, in Byelorussia, and had served with Soviet forces in Hungary. He was a dead Soviet paratrooper, whose personal journal had fallen into the hands of anti-Soviet Afghans.
The notebook included colored pen sketches and, most poignantly, several touching poemsa parachutist reflecting on the ever present nearness of death. The following translations, made from a photocopy of the notebook, are the work of TIME Staff Writer David Aikman and Reporter-Researcher John Kohan:
I AM GOING AWAY
I am going away, said...