David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst was three years old when he and his two adoptive dads, Ronald Gamboa, and Daniel Brandhorst were killed after hijackers flew their plane, United Flight 175, into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. He was one of the youngest to die on 9/11. He would have been 22 years old today.
Although the family lived in Los Angeles, little David liked to play at West Hollywood Park. A monument was erected at the park by the playground in memory of David. The brass plaque reads as follows:
“David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst – June 23, 1998 to September 11, 2001.
This playground celebrates the life and joy of David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst who was lost with his parents Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa on September 11, 2001.
David’s boundless energy and love were a gift to his Papa and Daddy and all those who knew him. David loved to play at this park – a little boy racing to climb and swing under the watchful eyes of his Papa and Daddy.
May David’s playground always be a place of joy, laughter and safe haven for every little boy and girl who asks for just one more trip down the big slide – or as David would say, “Just five more minutes, Daddy.”
Nineteen years later, the big slide and the play area where little David once ran around is completely gone to make way for a newly redeveloped West Hollywood Park.
The 9/11 Memorial states that Mr. Brandhorst, 41, was an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Los Angeles and Mr. Gamboa, 33, was the manager of a Gap store in Santa Monica. David, who was named for Daniel’s brother, was adopted in 1998. Mr. Brandhorst and Mr. Gamboa had been introduced at a party 13 years earlier.
At age 3, David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst loved Legos, his cousins and attending his weekly swim class. On Sept. 11, he boarded flight 175 at Logan Airport with his fathers Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa to return home to Los Angeles after visiting family in Cape Cod. The hijacked flight crashed into the south tower, making David one of the youngest victims of the 2001 terror attacks.
Gamboa’s sister, Jeannie Merwin, remembers her nephew as a gentle and loving little boy. Following the example of his health-conscious father, she says he loved vegetables. He even opted to eat cherry tomatoes over cake and ice cream at a cousin’s birthday party.
David called Gamboa “daddy” and Brandhorst “papa.” His fathers had met at a party in 1987 and a few years later relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles. They decided to start a family after being together for 10 years. They were in the delivery room when their adopted son, David, was born—just one day after Brandhorst’s birthday.
The two men relished fatherhood and both doted on their son. Family members say they had plans to adopt more children. The two were also founding members of the Pop Luck Club, an organization designed to give support and resources to gay dads and their families.
David’s name is adjacent to his two fathers at the 911 Memorial on the South Pool: Panel S-4.
It is not yet clear if the monument bearing his name will return to the new West Hollywood Park.