Mary Kate Bonds was born on 21 September 1920 in Chickamauga, Georgia, and graduated from Gordon Lee High School. In 1941 Bonds graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a teaching certificate and then taught for a year at Tyner High School in Tennessee.
In November 1942, Bonds joined the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and the following month was sent to Officers Training School at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Bonds was first assigned as an instructor at the naval recruit training center opening at Hunter College in New York. She next served as a welfare and recreation officer at the Potomac River Naval Command in Washington D.C., and then was assigned to avionics mechanics support at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In 1945 she was sent to the separation center at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, where she assisted in aviation selection until her discharge from active duty in April 1947.
Bonds remained in the naval reserves, and after a few months teaching veterans at Gordon Lee High School went to the Sixth Naval District headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked with the base’s addressograph system until women were allowed to join the regular navy in 1948. She then reported for active duty at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, where she trained female recruits. After meeting actress Esther Williams at the base in 1949, Bonds was asked to serve as a naval consultant in Hollywood during the making of training films. In the mid-1950s Bonds worked in the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) in Washington, D.C.
In 1958 Bonds attended Stanford University on a naval billet and graduated with a masters’ of arts. From 1964 to 1966 she served as the executive officer of the logistics command at the headquarters of the United States European Command in Paris, France. Upon her return to the U.S, she was assigned to the chief of naval operations office in the Pentagon. In 1967 Bonds was one of seven women promoted to the rank of captain, and served in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy at the Pentagon.
In 1971 Bonds retired from the navy and settled in Moore County, North Carolina, where she became an active volunteer. In addition to the U.S. Navy and Joint Service Commendation Medals, Bonds is a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award for community service.