Former aid recalls Kennedy's death

Mel Cottone: "It changed my life immensely"

By Calvin Hughes - Anchor
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MIAMI - John F. Kennedy was assassinated riding a motorcade in Dallas, Texas 50 years ago.  Decades later, his legacy still lives on through his influence on the Peace Corps, the Space Race and in Civil Rights.

President Kennedy once said that if not for winning the West Virginia primary in 1960, he never would have made it to the White House.

Kennedy's improbable win also launched another political career that of a young attorney named Mel Cottone who spoke with Local 10's Calvin Hughes.

"When he came into West Virginia, we had him meet with some coal miners, they wouldn't even shake his hand when they first met him," said Cottone.

"Here's a guy with a shirt and tie, a millionaire sitting there talking to all these coal miners. By the time he got through to them, the coal miners said, 'I want to shake the hand of the next president of the United States.'"

Cottone served on Kennedy's Advance Team 50 years ago. He said he was gearing up to launch JFK's re-election campaign in November 1963 in Washington D.C., just blocks from the White House, when he heard the tragic news.

"This man from the back ran and said, 'he's been shot, he's been shot!' For some reason I thought of Kennedy immediately and I took off running to the White House" said Cottone. "Some of us were in denial, we were hoping it wasn't true. From that moment on, it changed my life immensely and it changed the future of America."

Cottone said he believes Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and hasn't seen other evidence to make him believe in a bigger conspiracy.
Cottone is a speaker and author based in Boca Raton.

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