Bernie is one of many thousands of young men and women recruited by the Principality of Zeon for the war against the Earth Federation. On his first mission, he is assigned to a force of Zeon troops who invade the neutral colony of Libot in Side 6. Bernie is shot down within Libot and befriends a young boy named Alfred Izuruha, who is excited by Bernie's status as a mobile suit pilot. Bernie trades his Zeon rank badge for the video disc from Al's camera, which contains pictures of suspicious Federation activity. Upon returning to base, his intel gets him transferred to the special forces Cyclops Team headed by Steiner Hardy.
The Cyclops Team soon commences Operation Rubicon, to capture or destroy the Federation's new mobile suit, RX-78NT-1 Gundam "Alex", that is hidden in Libot. The rest of the team sees Bernie as a hindrance and treat him with disdain, assigning him either mundane tasks (watching Al) or dangerous missions (piloting the cargo hauler into the colony through a battlefield).
While on Libot, he encounters a young woman named Christina Mackenzie as he sneaks around Al's house. Thinking that Bernie is 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 gathering intel, the Cyclops Team infiltrates the EFF base housing the Gundam Alex to destroy it. Disguised as Federation soldiers, Bernie blows their cover after posing as an Australian and mixing up the seasons. A firefight ensues, during which all of the team is killed except for Bernie.
With the failure of Operation Rubicon, Colonel Killing orders the nuclear destruction of Side 6. Bernie decides to flee to Franchesca, a luxurious colony; but while waiting at the spaceport, he sees a red-haired woman he mistakes as Chris and begins to have second thoughts. In the end, he decides to stay and attempt to destroy Gundam Alex, in order to avoid the nuclear destruction of Side 6. With the help of Al, Bernie repairs his damaged MS-06FZ Zaku II Kai and prepares to lure out the Gundam Alex. Bernie then gives Al a tape to use in case he should fail.
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' 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 Gundam Alex's beam saber stabs straight through the cockpit and hits the reactor, causing his Zaku's entire upper body to explode (his remains are later referred to as looking like "a pile of 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
- He is one of the few "grunt" pilots who has critically damaged a Gundam.
- 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.
In other media
- 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.
- In many video games where he appears, Bernie's fate can be averted through the player's decisions, and even recruited to the Federation's side.
- In most strategy games where he appears, Bernie's melee skill is somewhat higher than his shooting skill. This is likely in reference to his battle with the Gundam Alex, in which he fought with only a heat hawk yet managed to land several major blows.
- In the Gihren's Greed series, Bernie 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, Bernie's statistics at maximum level are only equal to Char Aznable, Johnny Ridden or Anavel Gato's lowest levels.
- Bernie also appears in video game Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs 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.
- Chris and Bernie often have special dialogue when facing each other on the battlefield. For example, in Mobile Suit Gundam: Lost War Chronicles, Chris exclaims "Bernie?! You're a Zeon?!"; while in Mobile Suit Gundam Climax U.C. Bernie calls on Chris to stop fighting as he doesn't want to hurt her.
- Chris and Bernie are also the unfortunate butt of many jokes in various 4-koma comics based on the Gundam and Super Robot Wars series, mostly surrounding the fact that while Chris pilots a Gundam in an army composing of other high-powered mobile suits, Bernie pilots a comparatively weak Zaku.
War in the Pocket characters
|Earth Federation||Christina Mackenzie | Stuart | Richard Lumunba|
|Principality of Zeon||Killing | Von Helsing | Charlie | Rugens | Carioca|
|Cyclops Team||Bernard Wiseman | Steiner Hardy | Gabriel Ramirez Garcia | Mikhail Kaminsky | Andy Strauss|
|Civilians||Alfred Izuruha | Chay | Telcott | Dolores Hayes | Mrs. Mackenzie | Mr. Mackenzie | Michiko Izuruha | Ems Izuruha|