Texas State alumnus Brandon Caro found himself inspired to join the Navy, later to use his experiences to make a living in novel writing.
Caro graduated from Texas State in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in English before enlisting in the Navy to become a combat medic. Caro has published a fiction novel about themes of war based on his experiences and visited campus on Oct. 25 to share his story.
Caro’s experiences, however, began before he enlisted or went to college.
Caro was 19 when he felt his life truly changed. This moment was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Caro said he woke up at his friend’s house thinking another world war had begun.
His friend told him to watch the television and they saw the World Trade Center collapse on the news. Caro and his friend both had fathers who worked in the Twin Towers for Cantor Fitzgerald, the company that suffered the largest number of casualties during 9/11.Caro’s father had not worked that morning, but his friend’s dad did.
“It absolutely destroyed my friend,” Caro said. “And having that kind of front-seat view to that personal side of tragedy changed my life in a huge way.”
Caro said this tragedy cost him his innocence and changed the way he views war and life. As a direct result, Caro enlisted in the Navy, serving for five years. In 2007, he was deployed to Afghanistan for one year as a combat medic. It was his time at war that drove him to write and share his beliefs.
“I had really good material and subject matter. I’d seen things that people just wouldn’t believe,” Caro said. “I realized I could write things that people would be interested in reading.”
His novel, “Old Silk Road,” is a fictional account of his experiences at war. The story centers around a combat medic who is deeply addicted to the morphine he must administer to severely-injured patients. The central theme of the novel is the ambiguity of truth.
Caro said the idea is there is no way of knowing what goes on in the minds of those who wield power and control narratives. Caro said the government is shrouded in secrecy and it is almost impossible for the general public to know the whole truth about what goes on behind closed doors.
“Someone described my work as ‘dirt under the fingernails,’” Caro said. “It’s pretty unglamorous and it’s an indictment of leadership and their decisions to go to war and their narratives and the people who fight those wars.”
Laura Alaniz, English senior, said she has read Caro’s work and was impressed by his blend of personal experiences with fictional circumstances.
“A good writer is the sum of your experiences, and he’s definitely a good example of that,” Alaniz said.
Caro’s other work includes short stories featured in The New York Times, The Daily Beast and White Hot Magazine. He has contributed to the anthology “A Road Ahead, a collection of 24 veterans’ stories. Caro also co-wrote the book “Enemies Foreign and Domestic: A SEAL’s Story”. The book illustrates the experiences of Carl Higbie, a member of the Navy Seal team who was falsely accused of prisoner abuse after capturing the Butcher of Fallujah.
Caro said he owes much of his success in writing and in life to the professors who guided his writing journey.
“Brandon Caro is an excellent example of a Texas State English (alumni using his) degree to achieve great success in publishing,” Allan Chavkin, English professor, said.