Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose M. Zarate Jr. has been decorated with the Purple Heart for wounds received during a rocket attack while deployed to Afghanistan serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The medal is awarded to individuals wounded in war or armed conflict while engaged with an enemy or opposing armed force in defense of the United States. It is also awarded posthumously to the next of kin of military members who are killed in action, or who died of wounds received in action. During peacetime, it is awarded to individuals wounded or killed (posthumous award) while part of a peacekeeping force serving with a friendly foreign force, or as a result of terrorist acts.

The decoration was established by Gen. George Washington in 1782 and was known as the Badge of Military Merit. The decoration was revived as the Purple Heart in 1932 by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and is the oldest U.S. military decoration in use.

Zarate Jr. has served in the military for 16 years.

He is the son of Jose M. Zarate of Sabinal Drive, Mission, Texas, and Millie Zarate of S. H St., McAllen. He graduated in 1989 from John Marshall High School, San Antonio, and attended Troy University, Augusta, Ga.