On the evening of the 25th May 1971 a terrorist entered the reception hall of Springfield Road Police station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumping the case on the floor he fled out-side, inside the room were a man a woman and two children and several police officers. One of the police officers raised the alarm then began organising an evacuation of the hall through the reception office. Sgt Willetts was on duty in the inner hall, on hearing the alarm he sent an NCO to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which the police officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway shielding those taking cover.
In the next moment the bomb exploded with terrible force. Sgt Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area. All those people who were approaching the door from the far side agreed that if they had had to check to open the door, They would have perished. Sgt Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them.
By this act of bravery, he risked and lost his life for those of the adults and children.
Sgt Michael Willetts was awarded the George Cross (Posthumous)