Lieutenant Colonel Zavala is a native of Helotes, Texas and was commissioned in August 2000. After completing the Basic School and Infantry Officers' Course, he was assigned to 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. He deployed to Okinawa and the Republic of Korea under the Unit Deployment Program (UDP). As a company XO, he deployed from February-August 2004 in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM II.
He reported to 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) Company, Security Force Battalion in October 2004 where he served as a FAST Platoon Commander.
In February 2009, Lieutenant Colonel Zavala reported to 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, and deployed to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Upon return to Kaneohe Bay, HI, he reported to 3d Battalion, 3d Marines and redeployed to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.
In February 2011, Lieutenant Colonel Zavala reported to 4th Reconnaissance Battalion where he served as the Battalion Operations Officer/S-3 from 2011-2014.
From September 2015-April 2018, he served as a staff officer at 2d Marine Division.