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Couple soars to new heights

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Makros, the 13th Bomb Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Beth Makros, the 509th Operations Group deputy commander, pose with a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 7, 2016. The Makros are one of only three married couples to ever both fly the B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Makros, the 13th Bomb Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Beth Makros, the 509th Operations Group deputy commander, pose with a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 7, 2016. The Makros are one of only three married couples to ever both fly the B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- A common idea for celebrating a wedding anniversary is to go out to dinner or see a movie. However, the Makros spent their 16th wedding anniversary flying B-2 Spirits, together, for the last time at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri.

"Sixteen years together. How else do you celebrate?" said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Beth Makros, the 509th Operations Group deputy commander. "Let's fly B-2s together."

On June 3, 2016, the couple flew their final flights, known as fini-flights, which happened to fall on their anniversary. The couple will be moving to the Washington, D.C., area for their next assignment.

Lt. Col. Robert Makros, the 13th Bomb Squadron commander, and his wife, Beth, met while attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1994.

Beth said ever since they went to the academy, they both knew they wanted to be pilots. She, however, was told she couldn't fly planes due to her height.

"I would do everything I could to stretch my back out to be tall enough," said Beth. "The morning of my flight qualification physical, I walked softly down to the clinic and had them measure me immediately. They told me I was 5 feet 4 inches tall, which was the minimum. I was so excited!"

After qualification, Beth and Robert graduated the academy and went to flight school. Beth flew the B-1B Lancer at Dyess AFB, Texas, while Robert flew the F-15B Strike Eagle at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

"We were chasing each other for a while," said Beth. "I went to Dyess trying to get to Mountain Home. Then September 11th happened, and we started deploying, and it was harder to see each other."

After spending six years working toward getting stationed together, the couple finally got orders to Vance AFB, Oklahoma, as T-38 pilot instructors. Following the assignment, they moved to Whiteman to fly the B-2 Spirit. Today, they are one of only three married couples to ever pilot the B-2 Spirit at Whiteman together.

"It's not just being married and having to balance the work load," said Beth. "When we first got here, it was a real challenge. [Robert] was deployed. I was a new commander and had a baby, a 3 year-old and a 6 year-old."

Although the couple faced many challenges throughout their careers together and apart, they kept their motivations for why they continue to serve in the forefront of their minds.

"Whenever I get tired or want to give up, I think of my daughters and other peoples' daughters," said Beth. "That's why I continue to work hard--to show them that you can have a successful marriage. You can be a good mom, and you can be in charge of things and people."

Robert said the Air Force's people, the mission and his three daughters are what keep him motivated to work.

"I know the work we do every day honors the great Americans who fought and died for this great nation," said Robert. "It's on their shoulders that all of us stand."

Both said their main focus is supporting one another to be the best they can be, while showing their daughters they have equal roles in their relationship.

"Beth and I pride ourselves on demonstrating to our daughters that mommy and daddy are equal in all things," said Robert. "We want them to know, and witness through our actions, that they can be whatever they want, and that nothing is out of reach as long as they put in the required effort and hard work."

Not only do the Makros demonstrate equality to their daughters through their careers, but also at home.

"My husband probably cooks more than I do, he can do the girls' hair, and he gets them dressed in the mornings," said Beth. "He does that just as much, if not more, than I do, so that we can have this equal relationship, and the kids can see that."

Robert said that the couple believes that balance and perspective are the keys to success at work and at home.

"Being able to fly our fini-flights together was a great opportunity, especially because our daughters were able to share the experience with us," said Robert.

In the future, the couple aims to give back with public service.

"Beth and I want to do more than just show up to work every day," said Robert. "We want to be a part of something bigger than just us and have an impact on those in our community. We are leaning toward non-profit work. What specifically, we are unsure, but we like the idea of working with our veterans."