A "My Little Pony" emblem is seen. (John Harman / Staff)
If you think you can't be a real military man or woman and be a fan of My Little Pony, think again. So say the Pony-loving warriors of the Military Bronies Facebook page.
Bronies a mashup of "bro" and "ponies" are adult fans of the 1980s cartoon series based on a line of Hasbro toys and the follow-on cable series, "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic," which premiered in 2010.
Like the original, it chronicles six colorful ponies who live in Ponyville and focuses on the central character, Twilight Sparkle, as she learns about friendship and life.
Military bronies are putting their unique spin on the growing movement.
"So, what was that you said about ponies being unmilitary? I dare you to say it again ... " reads one recent post on the Military Bronies page over a picture of colorful, assault rifle-toting ponies.
Launched more than a year ago, the Facebook fan page boasts more than 2,600 likes. The recently created FOB Equestria website adds to the online military fan base.
The very first comment to a recent post on Army Times' Outside the Wire blog was quick to ridicule Bronies in uniform. "And thus begins the immasculation (sic) of our great country … " wrote Sadened, only to find himself under fire by dozens of Brony defenders.
"I am Active Duty Army, I possess a Top Secret security clearance as well as caveats above that, I have a wife and son, and I love to shoot things and watch things explode. Yet I am ‘immasculine'?" wrote one Brony. "Don't like it? Move to Canada."
"I'm a USAF pilot, and have been active duty for 10 years. I have been married to my lovely wife for 6 years," wrote another. "I like Metallica, the Phillies, Sam Adams, Grand Theft Auto, Maxim magazine, Game of Thrones, ‘Jackass,' and ‘My Little Pony.' As Rainbow Dash would say: deal with it."
Troops at the recent BronyCon Summer 2012 got a special military-only lunch with Tara Strong, who voices Twilight Sparkle. Strong praises the men as "twilightlicious" in a video posted by YouTuber "navybrony" only to be serenaded by the men with Twilight Sparkle's signature song: "T-W-I-L-I-G-H-T, and ain't no other pony troll down like me. I'm twilightlicious!"
"I wear my Brony T-shirts around the base a lot. That's how I let others know that I'm a Brony," said an Air Force meteorologist at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., pointing to his purple-and-pink T-shirt, in the Arizona Republic newspaper. "I was apprehensive about the response I would get because military guys tend to be raw and macho. But I'm surprised at how many nerdy guys I keep meeting in the Air Force."
He's one of several military members who regularly attend meetings of the Phoenix Bronies.
A combat veteran identified as Michael Rice told the newspaper his military service is a primary reason he's a Brony.
"My experiences in Afghanistan made me realize the value of humanity," Rice said. "Phoenix Bronies is a close-knit group, bound by friendship. And they're all wonderfully sweet people."