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 due to him replacing the late Andy Strauss as well as Steiner specifically requesting for someone with more experience than a rookie like Wiseman. His first task as part of the Cyclops Team is to escort their cargo to Libot, where he needed to pass a battlefield before reaching the colony's customs department before being joined by the rest of the Cyclops team.
As the team begin transporting the parts for the MS-18E Kämpfer to a factory, Bernie ends up encountering Al once again. Al would eventually find his way into the Cyclops Team's factory by reporting their suspicious behavior to the police. When Al realizes that the accompanying officer was now in danger of being killed, he immediately grabs Bernie, claiming that Wiseman was actually his stepbrother, causing the annoyed officer to leave. When Bernie and Al are ordered to explain themselves, Al immediately expresses his wishes to help the Cyclops Team and Zeon.
In response, Steiner gives Al a badge and orders Bernie to continue to monitor and babysit Al to make sure their secrets aren't leaked. While Bernie dutifully carries out this task, this was actually made to intentionally keep him away from the rest of the team.
After taking Al home, Bernie continues to loiter around Al's house for the rest of the night. Al's neighbor, Christina Mackenzie, catches Bernie sneaking around Al's house and attacks him with a baseball bat, knocking him out with one hit after mistaking him for a prowler. Al later covers for Bernie by once again claiming that Bernie was his stepbrother and was never revealed to Al's mother, forcing him to sneak around. Despite this rocky start, the Bernie and Chris got along well; If the reaction of Chris' parents is any indication, their attraction to each other is fairly obvious.
Bernie and Al later end up sneaking into the Federation's base in Libot in order to investigate the Federation's plans. Al would later take pictures of the Gundam Alex still in production, which Bernie passes to the rest of the team. As a reward for his dangerous mission, Bernie eats a punch from Garcia and is scolded by Steiner for taking an unnecessary stunt that could've compromised them. Nonetheless, Bernie is ordered to take Al back and to prepare for their infiltration mission to either steal or destroy the Gundam Alex.
The team soon receives their costumes and fake passports from their inside man in Libot, Charlie, before setting off. While preparing, Garcia warns Bernie to stay alive by the mission's end, confessing that this was the first time he had someone he could order around and lamenting what would happen if Bernie wasn't there to take his orders anymore.
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 that severely wounds Steiner. Garcia then orders Bernie to take the captain and flee as he plants bombs on the Gundam Alex to destroy it. Unfortunately, Garcia is shot midway through the Gundam Alex's ramp and can only detonate his bomb to kill himself instead. The Gundam Alex's pilot later arrives and proceeds to dispatch Mikhail and the Kämpfer.
Bernie is somehow able to escape through the chaos, taking the wounded Steiner back with him. When Steiner inquires of the Gundam Alex's fate, Bernie attempts to lie in order to comfort his captain and states that Mikhail had successfully dealt with the Gundam Alex. Steiner, however, immediately sees through Bernie's white lie, but succumbs to his wounds and passes away. Bernie later creates a make-shift grave for Steiner.
With the failure of Operation Rubicon, Colonel Killing orders the nuclear destruction of Side 6. Charlie warns Bernie of the Killing's intentions and urges Bernie to leave Libot. Bernie later meets with Al once again, where the two argue with Bernie's decision to run away from the problem. A frustrated Bernie finally dismisses Al's suggestion to fight by telling him of the grim reality of death and how nothing truly matters if you die by the end of the day.
Bernie soon plans his journey 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 sets various traps for his battle against 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 and had made vain attempts to stop the fight. 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.
After Bernie's death, Al plays his tape as per Bernie's wishes, where Bernie reveals inside information regarding the impending nuclear attack on the colony in the hopes that someone will believe Al and flee to safety. He also advises Al to not spite the Federation nor the pilot of the Alex, admitting that they are all just soldiers fighting for what they believe is right.
At the end of the tape, he gives a more light-hearted note saying that should he somehow prevail, he will definitely find a way to return to visit Al. Before the recording ends, Bernie simply asks Al to greet Chris for him.
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. series 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 or its beam cannons. In Extreme Vs 2, Bernie no longer uses the Hygogg assist and will instead summon Mikhail Kaminsky's MS-18E Kämpfer for support.
- 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.
- Due to the reputation that 0080's units have of being weak in comparison to the units of other main characters in other Gundam series, all of its units, including Bernie's Zaku, are assigned Extreme vs. series' lowest cost at 1000 in Full Boost, and 1500 in succeeding installments.
- In the afore-mentioned Extreme Vs. series, Bernie will be sarcastic and cynical regarding his chances in his Zaku against the more advanced units in the Gundam franchise.
- Bernie expresses relief at being paired together with a Gundam, but conversely wonders if it's even possible to win if he is paired with another Zaku.
- If he and Chris are paired together, he and Chris will ask the other not to over-stress themselves or will express surprise of their respective positions as pilots. Should they meet as enemies, Bernie tells Chris that they are simply soldiers in opposite sides and must perform their duties. Both will also reject the other's call to either surrender or retreat.
- 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.
- Bernie, Chris and Al are all referenced by an identical group of characters in Gundam Build Fighters's twenty third episode, Gunpla Eve.
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|