Tortuga salutes soldiers in Iraq

An authentic taste of the Caribbean brightens the off-hours for an 11-man Military Transition Team serving at a joint security station in southwestern Baghdad.

Soldiers saluted

Front row, from left: Sergeant First Class Edward O’Leary, Utica, New York; Sergeant First Class William Enriquez, Queens, New York; Captain Rick Pounds, Phoenix, Arizona. Back row, from left: Captain Chadwick Swenson, Rockford, Illinois; Master Sergeant Randolph Washington, Petersburg, Virginia; Major Kevin Nicholas, Gallipolis, Ohio; and Staff Sergeant Anthony Troche, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Photo: Submitted

A relative of Captain Chadwick Swenson brought this group to the attention of the Tortuga Rum Cake Company. When the unit first arrived in Iraq earlier this year, they were stationed in the north and began collecting humanitarian aid from home to help the local villagers.

Tortuga employees donated clothing, toys and hygiene products and the company covered the shipping. Of course the packages also included some delicious Tortuga Rum Cakes for the soldiers. Once the MiTT moved to Baghdad, they had to stop the aid collections. However they have still been able to receive some additional Tortuga rum cake shipments.

Composed of officers and senior sergeants from different backgrounds and military skills, the MiTT works directly with the Iraqi military to coach, teach, advise, mentor and train as well as going into combat with them.

“Captain Swenson’s emails have put a very personal face on the war in Iraq. We are so proud of these men and all the soldiers who are serving throughout the world,” Monique Hamaty-Simmonds, president of Tortuga Imports/Tortuga Rum Cake Company, said in a press release.

Families frequently send Tortuga Rum Cakes to soldiers overseas, and the company has a tradition of sharing its rum cakes with US troops. In 2003, Tortuga sent cakes to the 313th Army Military Intelligence Battalion when a request came in from their chaplain’s wife. A letter from the wife of a US Air Force firefighter with the 506th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron resulted in cakes sent to Kirkuk Air Force Base in Iraq for Christmas of 2004. In March 2006, cakes went to the 408th Personnel Service Battalion stationed in Adder, Iraq.


Founded in 1984, Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd. is a family owned and operated business based in Grand Cayman with franchise bakeries in Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas. Tortuga Imports, also known as the Tortuga Rum Cake Company, handles worldwide distribution, mail order, food service and online sales from Miami, Florida. Considered the No. 1 export of the Cayman Islands, Tortuga Rum Cakes are shipped to 70 countries around the world. The complete line can be ordered online at or toll free at 800-444-0625.

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