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Bernie is one of many thousands of young men and women recruited by the Principality of Zeon for the war against the Earth Federation. By the time of the Gundam 0080 OVA, story wise the Federation was already on the offensive having fought off the Zeon attempt to invade the secret Federation base at Jaburo.
He is one of a force of Zeon troops who invade the neutral colony of Libot in Side 6 for reasons that were at the time unknown. This is also apparently the first public appearance of the Federation's mass-produced Mobile Suits, as their existence is treated as rumor until they engage the Zeons in battle.
Bernie is shot down within Libot and befriends a boy named Alfred Izuruha. Despite telling Al that he is one kill away from being an ace, Bernie has never actually shot down a Mobile Suit and is the lowest ranking officer on Cyclops Team.
After a failed attempt to capture Gundam Alex at the Earth Federation's Arctic Base, Colonel Killing assigns Bernie to the Cyclops Team headed by Steiner Hardy. The Cyclops Team soon commences Operation Rubicon. Bernie's mission is to aide Cyclops Team in capturing the Federation's new mobile suit, Gundam Alex.
While on Libot, he encounters a young woman named Christina Mackenzie as he sneaks around Al's house. Thinking that Bernie is a peeping tom or a prowler, Chris attacks him with a baseball bat, knocking him out with one hit. Despite this rocky start, the two got along well. If the reaction of Chris' parents is any indication, their attraction to each other is fairly obvious.
After Operation Rubicon fails, Colonel Killing orders the nuclear destruction of Side 6. Bernie decides to flee to Franchesca (a luxurious colony) but changes his mind and makes a life-changing decision. Bernie goes back and attempts to destroy Gundam Alex, as the only surviving member of the Cyclops Team, to avoid the nuclear destruction of Side 6 by Colonel Killing. With the help of Al, Bernie repairs his damaged MS-06FZ Zaku II Kai and prepares to lure out Gundam Alex. Bernie then gives Al a tape to use in case he should fail, not knowing that the Zeon's weapons have been discovered.
On the day of the proposed attack, Al becomes aware of the news that the Federation forces have found the nuclear weapons on a captured Zeon ship and attempts to stop Bernie from fighting. For Bernie it is too late.
He engages in battle with Gundam Alex (piloted by Chris). Sadly, neither he nor Chris know that the other is their opponent, and the battle is both violent and merciless. Thanks to Chris's relative inexperience in battle, Bernie is able to lure her into a trap, and heavily damages the Gundam with the Zaku's melee attacks. Unfortunately for Bernie, he is killed instantly when his Zaku's entire upper body explodes from Gundam Alex's beam saber stabbing straight through him (his remains are later referred to as looking like "hamburger"). His death is mourned by Al, who rushes to the site only to witness the tragic attack. Later, when Chris tells Al that she is leaving Libot, she asks him to say goodbye to Bernie for her, unaware of what truly occurred.
Notes & Trivia
- While not the most famous, skilled or popular character in the Gundam franchise, Bernie is quite well known in his own right for his tragic fate. As a result, he appears quite often in other media that involves the Universal Century.
- He is among the Zeon characters that appear in the SD Gundam G Generation series of strategy games, and depending on which title it is in the series may either survive his battle with the Alex or (more often) perish. He is also a rentable pilot (i.e. he can be hired to pilot one of the player's Mobile Suits for one battle).
- In most strategy games where he appears, Bernie's melee skill is normally somewhat higher than his shooting skill. This is likely because of his surprisingly successful battle with the Alex (where he managed to slice off part of the right arm, damage the cockpit, and with his last strike, decapitate the Gundam).
- In the Giren's Ambition series of games, Bernie also appears on the Zeon side. Reflecting his rookie status, his stats are quite low compared to other 'named' pilots. In fact, in the PS2 version of Giren's Greed, Bernie's statistics (shooting, dodging, melee and so on) at maximum level are only equal to Char Aznable, Johnny Ridden or Anavel Gato's lowest levels. Also in Giren's Greed, like other doomed pilots such as the Black Tri-Stars and Ramba Ral, Bernie can be spared his fate through the player's decisions. In the PS2 version, one of numerous results can occur including the destruction of the Cyclops team as in the OVA, the successful destruction of the Alex but loss of the entire team or the destruction of the Alex and Bernie's triumphant return. Improbably, another possible result is Bernie's capture of both the Alex and its pilot Chris. Also, should Bernie survive Operation Rubicon he is automatically risen to maximum level. While still no match for top aces such as Char, Ridden or Amuro Ray, this does put him on even footing with other pilots such as Kou Uraki or Bernard Monsha.
- Bernard also appears in video game, "Gundam Extreme Versus", with his Zaku II Kai. He gets a wide range of attacks consisting of a 90mm machine gun, heat hawk, hand grenades, explosive santa dolls, and a Hygogg assist that fires missiles. He is one of the best characters in the game due to his low team cost and ability to disrupt the enemy team.
- He is one of the few "grunt" pilots who has critically damaged a Gundam.
- Bernie and Chris do not appear very often in the Super Robot Wars. When he does appear, Bernie is generally an enemy for much of the game but may eventually be convinced to join the player's side. His relationship with Chris is the source of much teasing by other characters.
- In many mecha games based on the Universal Century, such as Encounters in Space, Gundam: Lost War Chronicles or Gundam Climax U.C., Bernie and Chris often have special dialogue when opposing each other on the battlefield. For example, in Lost War Chronicles, Chris exclaims "Bernie?! You're a Zeon?!" while in Climax U.C. Bernie calls on Chris to stop fighting as he doesn't want to hurt her.
- He is also the unfortunate butt of many jokes in various 4-koma comics based on the Gundam and Super Robot Wars series. Many of these jokes involve the fact that his (apparent) girlfriend pilots a far more powerful Mobile Suit that him. 4-komas based on the Super Robot Wars series also poke fun at him for the fact that, as part of a team that includes numerous Gundams and powerful Super Robot warriors, he still pilots a comparatively very, very weak Zaku (in fact, in Super Robot Wars F (in which is Bernie is a "Zakumaniac" and has already been convinced by Chris to join the player's side), he has a one-line Dramatic Voice Event where he tells Chris not to ridicule his Zaku). He is also portrayed as a (very reluctant) benchwarmer, as far more skilled pilots and far more powerful machines are available.
- He survives the destruction of his Zaku II Kai in the War in the Pocket novelization; it is mentioned that "the pilot miraculously survived" while Al's father is reading a newspaper.