FORT MEADE, Md. –
For over a decade and long before joining the Army, Staff Sgt. Archie Masibay has gazed directly into his camera, welcoming his YouTube community with the same opening line: "What's going on everyone -- ARCHIEzzle here!"
Now serving as a recruiter in Brentwood, California, Masibay highlights Army topics that inform, entertain, and motivate others. And while "Archiezzle" is just an online persona, Masibay interacts with his YouTube and other social media community to answer questions potential recruits may have before joining the Army.
FINDING HIS VOICE
Growing up in the Philippines, Masibay's parents pressured him to join the health care industry. Determined to make his family proud, he filled his college schedule with pre-nursing courses.
He never finished them.
"They forced me into the nursing field. I like nursing because I enjoy helping people, but I'm not sure it was my true passion," he said. "Additionally, I was hanging out with the wrong people, and I wasn't focused."
Masibay knew he needed a change. He packed all of his belongings and moved to California in 2006 to maintain his dual Philippine and U.S. citizenship. Around the same time, he started to frequent a budding website called YouTube.
"I started watching a lot of stuff on YouTube, and I wanted to make videos -- it looked like fun," he said. "I was influenced by a lot of people to start a [video blog] … or to make comedy videos and skits. However, I wasn't well-versed with working with a camera or video software."
As luck would have it, Masibay, who worked in the retail industry at the time, received his store's "employee of the year" award. Elated, he marched his $100 gift card award over to the store's electronics section and purchased his first point-and-shoot camera.
ARCHIEzzle was born.
"I used my channel for multiple reasons. At one point I was posting video gaming videos around 2006, but YouTube would take them down because of copyright laws," he shared. "I also tried to learn to play the piano, but I didn't know how to read music.
"My channel just evolved into something that was fun," he continued. "My goal [was] never to become popular -- I just wanted to share my story."
Around 2010, Archiezzle had amassed a substantial following, peaking at about 20,000 subscribers, he said.
Masibay, however, spent many days and nights working multiple jobs to keep himself afloat, he said.
He was determined to find a better path, so he turned to YouTube and started re-watching one of his favorite military influencers -- Jimmy D. Shea, a former Marine who was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
At the time, Jimmy created informative videos about the Marine Corps, in addition to other humorous content, Masibay said.
"So I watched a lot of Jimmy D. Shea videos," he said. "I told myself, 'This guy is unique. He is in the Marines, he likes cars, and he has his family.' To me, that was a good balance, and it made me think that the military was a good idea."
With the seed planted, Masibay had many questions, he said. Seeking help, he turned to his older brother who served in the Army Reserve. He also spoke with his co-worker who was going through the Air Force recruiting process.
Over the next year, Masibay went back and forth between Air Force and Army recruiters. Eventually, the Army guaranteed him a career as a combat medic, or 68W.
"I enjoy using Army medicine to help people," Masibay said, adding his brother played a huge role in his final decision. "Being in this field, you get to experience a lot of things that you don't see on the civilian side."
On March 7, 2011, Masibay was on his way to basic combat training. Before departing, Archiezzle shot a quick video to say "goodbye" to his YouTube community.
"Don't worry; I will be back -- bigger, better, stronger. By the time [I return,] I will have more stories to tell you guys, especially for those future Army Soldiers like me," Archiezzle shared in his video. "I want to take you with me in a way that no one has ever done before."
"It's either I stay at home and watch the world tear itself apart … or I get out there myself and make a difference," he said. "I got this!"
There was no turning back now.
Masibay leveraged his previous medical experience to push himself through basic and advanced individual training. And through it all, he still had time to meet the love of his life, another 68W in training named Flor.
"Archie is an outgoing person, and I guess I liked [that] about him," Flor said. "He's not shy. And when he wants something, he is going to get it -- so I find that attractive."
However, strict training regulations at Fort Sam Houston prevented the couple from getting close. Fortunately, Archie and Flor received the same assignment to Germany, he said. The relationship snowballed, and the couple eventually married. Their daughter, Illianna, was born a year later.
LEARNING FROM HIS MISTAKES
As the Soldier lifestyle kicked in, a lot changed for the Masibay family over the next five years. In turn, Archiezzle slowly started to fade away.
"I gave up on the channel between 2011 to December 2015," said Masibay, commenting on his decreased YouTube activity. "I am a husband and father now, and I was focused on my Army career."
"Then in January 2016 … I came across another YouTuber making Army videos," he continued. "He inspired me to revive my channel. I had a lot of people still following me. Some people would message me and say, 'Hey, I miss your Army videos!'"
Determined to revive his old channel, Masibay started posting videos about his dogs and family. As his following continued to grow, Archiezzle began producing more Army-centric content and sharing his Soldier's story.
"I met a lot of people [who] were in the military and doing the same thing," Archie said. "I wanted to build a community to help people prepare for a future in the Army. At the least, I wanted something that I can look back at like an online diary, so I can share it with my kid when she is older."
Archiezzle was back and better than ever. Around the same time, Masibay was selected for special duty assignment as an Army Recruiter.
"I see the passion Archie has when he makes videos, and we support him," Flor said. "He finds the time. Archie works Monday to Friday and he still finds time to make and upload his videos. He really loves this, so I'm happy for him that he's able to continue with his hobby."
Things were going great -- until Masibay received a distressing call.
A higher-ranking official demanded that Masibay take his channel down immediately, he said. Simply put, Archiezzle's branding and endorsements were allegedly in direct violation of the Army's regulation concerning proper social media use.
Masibay dreaded the idea that ten-plus years of his life would be erased in a single click, he said. Fortunately, his chain of command was able to de-escalate the situation. In turn, he walked away almost unscathed, but he learned a valuable lesson.
"I'm not going to lie; I had some stuff that was not supposed to be there. That's why a lot of my stuff had been taken down," he said. "Now I scrub my channel … because I'm representing the Army."
For all the Soldiers out there that use social media, he shared some sound advice:
"For anyone out there looking to make online content -- if you're in uniform and you're having second thoughts about posting: don't post it. Check with your unit public affairs office to screen your content, or seek their advice."
THE GREATER GOOD
Learning from his mistakes, Archiezzle continues to make videos to support the Army recruitment efforts.
"Staff Sgt. Masibay is driven and very professional," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Green, assistant recruiting station commander. "[Masibay] is forthcoming and unbiased with his videos and social media posts, [which] allows someone to make their own decision."
"A lot of people don't realize we have families and lives outside the Army," he continued. "[Masibay] reminds people that we are human beings in addition to being Soldiers ...many people don't see that side."
In the end, the Archiezzle channel was never about chasing fame, Masibay emphasized.
"My channel is an indirect recruiting tool. It is a good way to tell the Army's story," Masibay said. "Even if I didn't influence someone to join the Army, they now have a better understanding of what we do outside of the uniform,"
"At the end of the day, I just like making videos. And I know that my YouTube helped other Soldiers out there, in some way, shape, or form," he said. "Archiezzle out!"