A congressman who raised eyebrows with recent remarks about personally wanting to drop a nuclear bomb on Syria now says he was joking.

The Feb. 19 remarks by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, at a church pancake breakfast were first reported this week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper reported it had heard a recording of the talk made by someone in attendance.

According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush and GOP Rep. Kay Granger at the White House about weapons of mass destruction that troops failed to find in Iraq.

According to Roll Call, Johnson said he told the president: “Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on ’em and I’ll make one pass. We won’t have to worry about Syria anymore.”

Johnson, 74, is a former Air Force combat pilot who served in Korea and Vietnam, where he was shot down and spent 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Friday. However, he told The Dallas Morning News that he was surprised anyone took his comments seriously and has never advocated a nuclear strike on Syria.

“I was kind of joking – you know, we were talking between veterans,” he said. He added that President Bush knew he was joking.