Marine Decorated for Turning Tide of Firefight The lance corporal grabbed a machine gun and blasted away, saving his buddies in Iraq. By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer CAMP PENDLETON â Outnumbered, pinned down and under attack from three directions, the Marines of Echo Company were in danger of being overrun by Iraqi insurgents hurling grenades and firing rockets and AK-47s. Lance Cpl. Thomas Adametz, 21, a native of the Philippines, was determined that the Marines would not be defeated in the April 26, 2004, battle. Without having to be ordered, Adametz dashed in front of the bullet-riddled building where the Marines were under heavy fire, grabbed a machine gun and began firing at the charging enemy. "I looked out there and saw this crazy maniac firing away so all the Marines could come back alive," said Lance Cpl. Carlos Gomez-Perez, who was severely wounded in the attack. On Wednesday, in a ceremony in which he was praised by a general as a "great warrior," Adametz was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for combat bravery. Dozens of Marines from the 1,200-man 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division have received commendations for their service during the monthlong assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallouja in April 2004. But only Adametz got the Silver Star. Prior to the assault, few might have described him as a candidate for extraordinary bravery under fire. "He's a very quiet kid; no he-man, not a testosterone type," said Sgt. Major William Skiles. "He was just a Marine who stepped up when it counted." The barrel of the 16-pound machine gun became red-hot, burning Adametz's hands, leaving his fingerprints etched into the metal. He kept firing. Finally, the insurgents retreated. It was one of the last times insurgents in Fallouja attempted a headlong assault on a Marine position, officials said. Adametz was not trained as a machine-gun specialist. But as insurgents rushed to within 25 yards of the Marines' position, he realized his M-16 did not have enough firepower. One Marine was already dead and eight were wounded, some seriously. "Everyone was scared," Lance Cpl. John Flores said. "But we were told to hold the ground, and we were going to do it." With covering fire provided by Adametz, the Marines regrouped. An air strike demolished the insurgents' hiding place. "His aggressive actions and devastating fire were critical in repelling the enemy's attack," says the citation accompanying his Silver Star. At Wednesday's ceremony, Adametz seemed slightly embarrassed at being called a hero. "All I wanted to do was protect my brother Marines," he told reporters who crowded around him. Adametz will leave this summer for a third tour in the Persian Gulf region.