A Navy medic wounded by Iraqi shrapnel during an exchange of fire across the Kuwaiti border will be the first recipient of a Purple Heart in the Persian Gulf war, officials said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Clarence D. Conner, 21, of Banning, was recovering Sunday after a jagged piece of metal was removed from his right shoulder."I'm very proud of him," said Florence Sanders, 78, who, with her husband, Clarence Fritz Sanders, raised Conner.

"All I was thinking about was whether he was all right," she said.

Florence Sanders said that on hearing news reports Saturday about a Navy corpsman being injured, "I got a funny feeling in my stomach. I couldn't sleep all night. But then the next morning they called to say he was OK."

A cousin, Judy Zimmerman, from Cheney, Wash., said the whole family was proud of Conner.

"He's going back with his unit at his request," Zimmerman said. "I know he pleaded with his commanding officer to send him back."

Conner was assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the 1st Marine Division from Camp Pendleton when he was injured Friday, Navy Cmdr. James Noone said from Washington, D.C.

Conner will receive the award when he returns to the United States. The Purple Heart is a decoration awarded to soldiers wounded or killed in action.