"We have maybe little pieces of the runway that eventually work itself up, maybe a little baggage tag that could possibly fall off a bag while being transported to the plane," said Lucy Burghdorf, Bob Hope Airport community relations manager.
The mile-long walk along the airport's main approach runway took about a half hour. Veterans were invited along in recognition of the airport's long association with the military.
Foreign object debris cost the global airline industry about $4 billion annually because material can get sucked into a jet's engine and damage the aircraft.
The human cleanup crew was accompanied by a truck-mounted high-tech system called the Truck's FOD Finder. It can be used without shutting down runways.
"You can do it while operations are going on. You reduce the manpower. It's basically, ultimately, saves money for the airport, as well as the airliners," said Grant Bishop of Trex Enterprises.
Fortunately, runway 08/26 was in good shape, and crews only found small items on the runway.